Welcome to the Nukapedia News Digest, brought to you by Far Go Traders... We're not as dumb as we look.
In Your digest this week
From the Administrative Enclave
Attention Nukapedia Shoppers
Okay, so you might have missed the free Fallout on Gog.com and the half price Interplay deal, but if you're a UK based Nukapedian don't fret.
Onlive is currently promoting their PlayPack subscription, which allows you to play over 200 games, including Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics (plus Bards Tale for Fargoites and Alpha Protocol for Obsidian fans) for the first month reduced to £2 from £6.99.
BT broadband customers can get a good deal on this package - first 3 months at £1.99.
I'm unsure if similar promotions are available or the price of the PlayPack in other markets (see onlive.com for more details)
For those of you unfamiliar with Onlive, it is a cloud based gaming service. The game runs on servers on Onlive's end and is then streamed to your PC, Onlive console, tablet, Mac, or other supported device.
It's a great way to play games your machine may otherwise not run, although it does depend on the quality of your Internet connection.
Time for a break?
After a one off movie and a web series, Nuka break is coming back; those who support the guys raise $60,000 or more can get access to HD downloads, CDs, and even a PIP-Boy for big spenders. For those of you who missed it, here's their first movie:
Chris Avellone and Brian Fargo answer anything
Just some highlights for you good people. The comments here range not just on Fallout and Wasteland, but other games they've been involved in, and the industry in general. Some of these give a real clear snapshot of what we can expect in Wasteland 2.
Just a heads up, some of the comments here are rather casual, occasionally getting a bit over PG-13.
On Wasteland 2 development and design
BF: We are going to do our best to map out every resource and build some buffer into the plan. I am going to treat the first 6 months of development as crunch time to nail down 100% of the design and to have all the major systems working. Iteration time in an RPG is key. There is always a risk of a game being late and I would always take a product that is robust and varied yet slightly late over something buggy, broken and on time.
BF: The other huge benefit is not jumping through hoops to prove we know what we are doing or to make demos for trade shows. Development is a pure process.
BF: It isn't 100% binary but we do need to make sure that we have the financing to make Wasteland 2 everything that it needs to be. We do want mod tools and it could come in the way of a community made software. We have lots of time to sort this baby out.
BF: I probably have not been clear on this but the main city exploration and battles will take take place on an isometric view. There will be limited zooming but unlikely for full rotation. And the world map which gives you the larger scope of the world may or may not be isometric. Straight down for that may suffice but I want to experiment to see if there is a nice look we can achieve with a more isometric angle on that perspective. I should re-iterate that these are the kinds of things that we will throw samples up to the forums for feedback. Once we agree on the look is when I turn the artists loose.
BF: The things that we are "trading off" will be cinematic cut scenes and extensive audio from talking heads. Organizing and paying for cut scenes is a very expensive proposition. The fans have been very clear in their wishes of wanting more cause and effect and a bigger world and that is where we are going to spend our efforts. We also have the advantage in that we have the game systems in place which allows us to slide right into the sequel.
BF: We are using a LOT of material from Jason. He was here for a year generating storylines, characters, and filling out the tone of the Wasteland 2 world. Unfortunately he is on a project for THQ and I'm sure knee deep in design of that. Hopefully I will get to work again with him soon.
BF: We don't mind the questions at all and especially in light of it being fan funded. Sometimes we don't have all the answers as we are still polling the forums to nail down the main sensibilities.. though most of them are well known now. We are going to take the universe of Wasteland serious and not parody or joke about it. But there will be twisted humor that will spring forth and not every scenario will be dead serious. Modern day police cover a number of crimes than range from murder to more domestic issues. There will be a heavy mood that is accomplished with the music of Mark Morgan, the visuals and the writing. Expect a somewhat dense narrative as the literary vibe is what made many of those old school games hum.
BF: I can pretty much guarantee this will have a minimum of an M rating. We don't plan to pull any punches when it comes to adult subjects. Our audience can handle this and it is the world the fans want to see. A post apocalyptic world is not a pretty place.
BF: Yes the cultural references are part of the charm of these games. We did quite a few in the first Wasteland and you can get you will get some more from the 80's. Speaking of which I recommend the book Ready Player One. A fun read and also did a great job of cultural references for anyone who remembers the 80's.
BF: We will most definitely make the religious cults a key part of the world. Religion always becomes a driving force in a world in strife and in this case it is is a very strange one.
BF: I personally hate monsters that scale up with my level. I want the satisfaction of mowing through the enemies that use to harass me. Having the difficulty curve to steep at the start is a different issue than scaling. I am for having monsters increase in difficulty on triggers like night time but that is still not scaling.
CA: (in response to comment above) I concur. I do advocate scaling for certain lieutenants and bosses, however, especially if you know future DLC packs will raise the level cap. :)
BF: I have no doubt at all that fan communication gives us a huge advantage. It makes it so that we spend time on the things are players want to see and keeps some of the guess work out. And it is pretty amazing to have 50,000 backers... yes it was a pleasant surprise and shows there was a strong demand for a real RPG. We will keep everyone updated through our forums and blog posts plus various gaming press. I'll let Chris comment on the metacritic issue but I think it is outrageous as the game sold MILLIONS of copies and their bonus should have been tied to that IMHO. It was especially insulting in that the gold master date was moved up.
CA: Linearity can suck my balls. Wasteland 1 let you go anywhere and suffer the consequences - or reap the rewards. In open-world tradition, we'd like the player character and party composition along with your choices and path through the environment cause a lot of ripples and consequences - that's what makes a gameplay experience. Strat guide - I believe that fans (and places like Game Banshee) do a much quicker job of delivering all the facts in an easily-searchable internet format. Most strat guides feel out of date within days (ex: Ausir's Vault for Fallout is more comprehensive than anything I can imagine, and it can update rapidly with new info that strat guides have a delay on).
BF: (What going to Kickstarter instead of a publisher means for design) I am pretty certain that our adult approach and PC centric development would not have been popular with publishers. It is quite nice to be developing a game without worrying about a controller interface or what happens when you are 6' away from the screen.
CA: (on Obsidians' Dialogue tool) We have flowcharting tools embedded in the scripts on a node by node basis, the ability to view conversations not in terms of trees (which changes the flow of a conversation considerably), ability to see the speakers as images, built-in dictionary and pronunciation guides, and (drumroll) a Hollywood script formatting tool for exports. That's only a few of the things, but the improvements make writing a dialogue much faster to write and critique.
CA: I'd definitely like to do a Needles-sized location.
The publisher relationship
BF: Of COURSE I have had some publishers call me to voice their interest in Wasteland and of me doing RPGs. I knew that was coming. I had one group that wanted to fund my marketing for a piece of the pie. I politely explained that we have an ARMY of fans who are better than any marketing campaign.
Lessons learned from Prior games
CA: Note that the best way we've found is what was done with Fallout 2: One person leads the charge on the overall game arc, then the game is divided into zones that each designer takes charge of (so, using F2's example, I got a 1-2 pager on New Reno, Vault City, and the Raiders... plus the special encounters, then ran with the design).
CA: I think you can get a lot more imaginative when the constraints are tighter - as an example, in Fallout 1, the "stupid" dialogue options didn't require any huge leap in engine technology or the latest video card to enhance the RPG experience.
CA: No developer wants to release a buggy game. Often, however, people do not want to pay more to insure that happens, and as developers, we need to be pro-active about downscaling our titles to allow for more time to address issues as a result. If it ends up being a smaller game, then so be it.
CA: Bethesda has a great sense of open-world mechanics, and they've carried that through all their titles - Fallout is very much an open-world RPG, so I thought it worked well especially for that setting.
BF: (On the fall of Interplay) I certainly made my mistakes but one of the biggest things that hurt us was trying to stay true to the PC while the world went to console. I'm very proud of the products we were releasing during a time of EXTREME pressure. Torment, Sacrifice, Giants, Baldur's Gate 2, Fallout 2 etc. While companies like Activision flourished with Tony Hawk and Take 2 with GTA we just didn't have a big enough hit to carry us. I held onto the quality while bankers had guns pointed at my head.
CA: Hey, thanks for the DLC kudos. It was a smaller team for those, but the DLCs gave us a chance to try out new areas, mechanics, and (esp. for Old World Blues) tone. Also, Bethesda did something great by contracting us solidly to do 4, which allowed us to do (gasp) foreshadowing and (gasp) interconnectivity. Wasteland Bible = That's a cool idea, hadn't considered it. I'll mention it to the crew. The Bible was a labor of love, and a Wasteland one would be, too.
CA: I don't think Fallout has a romantic bent. I was a little worried with hints of Arcade and Veronica people might expect it (I don't think they did, I think they appreciated the absence, which was cool), but "romance" in Fallout tends to go sour (F2 and getting married, and for FNV, hypothetically Christine and Veronica). But what do I know.
CA: (On advice on making RPGs) My advice: Designing the system is as important to having someone playtest it (preferably players if it's a mod or PNP system). When doing Van Buren back at Interplay, we have the pnp game players be the ones stomping on the mechanics, perks, and more to see how they felt, which ones were useful, etc.
BF: What made Wasteland 1 work so well was the grey area that you lived in. There were often not obvious right choices and sometimes things go sideways even with the best intentions. That is life.
CA: (On KOTR2) Lot of material, not enough time, we downscoped, so a lot of material got cut. Some of it was intentionally cut because we didn't like how it turned out.
CA: Scorpitron manufacturing plant?! Talk about an epic level dungeon, I can't even imagine how horrifying that place would be.
BF: I would definitely NOT automatically allow backers to have their voice in the game. Nothing would make the game cheesier faster than having bad voice work. Gives me chills thinking about it.
CA: My biggest thought here isn't on voice acting (which I think has value), it's more about money that's wasted on cinematics for dialogue mechanics (this really made me wince on AP). I'd rather that money go to more combat anims rather than a dialogue system that really only BioWare has ever done well.
On Future games
CA: Note this is just personal opinion. I can't predict the future, no matter how much Snake Squeezin's I drink. So I believe Obsidian will continue to work with publishers. We'll continue doing larger RPGs, some will be sequels, some hopefully will be new, and some hopefully will be our own creations. But when it comes to stuff we've created, our chances of "owning" that world is rare to non-existent (Alpha Protocol is owned by SEGA, for example). However, the idea of player/crowd-funding was something the industry considered as an option until Tim and Double Fine did it. Has that changed our view of the marketplace? Sure. And have we wanted to do small games? Sure. So it's an interesting time for the industry, and Kickstarter's a great way to directly ask fans what they want.
CA: As for me, I'd love to do: Ultima (both conventional and the spin-offs like Martian Dreams), Wizard's Crown/Eternal Dagger (love the skill-based character building). In terms of existing franchises: The Wire, Archer, X-Com RPG, Deus Ex, and System Shock. Wasteland was formerly one of the ones above, but then Brian contacted me, and made it a reality. Shiiiiit yeah.
CA: (on what else Obsidian is up to) We've got other products in the works and ones we're pitching. Can't say much about them at this time except they're probably less offensive than South Park.
CA: Mostly worked on Ulysses, Cass, Lanius, and the NCR commander, and I worked on the Mojave Outpost and the REPCONN museum. In the DLCs, I was more hands-on with region and content. Thanks, we thought Old World Blues would be poorly received, and the response amazed us - glad you liked it!
On gaming and life in general
CA: You can thank Brian Mitsoda for the mechanics and the situation, and Travis Stout for implementing it. So I firmly believe that dialogue in RPGs should be a game system in itself, and it should have game mechanics associated with it. I think AP's example worked so well was because it made you (1) feel more like you were in a episode of 24, (2) didn't penalize you for any choices, just gave different consequences, and (3) gave immediate feedback on how the conversation was going with folks. As a studio, we want to do more experiments like these, especially when they match the genre - for example, the dialogue system we had planned for Aliens was designed never to take you out of the world to make sure you were still "on edge" at all times. Also, when I look at shows like Sherlock (bbc, most recent), I get intrigued by the dialogue mechanics in play in that series.
CA: (after being asked if a Planescape: Torment sequel would be his preferred Kickstarter project). That'd be my top one, yes. I have a spiritual successor idea in mind from a mini-Planescape campaign I did long ago that I'd love to turn into a game.
CA: Yes, I see it as an acid test. I believe there's always going to be a market for BIGBUDGET(tm) RPGs, shooters, etc, and I don't believe publishers will change their attitude on these genres or care about Kickstarter unless the revenues from one of these titles ends up being significant. I can't define "significant" for you, however, although it's probably astronomical in publisher minds. I think large publishers are committed to their larger models.
BF: My favourite jokes (from a game that BF has made) were from the Bard's remake. I thought the running gag about the chosen one was quite funny. Poor kid would step up and announce that he was the chosen one and then take an arrow straight to his forehead. Yes a bit dark.
CA: (in response to the above comment) I loved the fire-breathing giant rat in the cellar in the Bard's Tale remake, every developer who's had to do a rat quest appreciates it.
CA: Something "like" it would be something we're interested in. We had a lot of ideas for AP2 we'd love to use in future games in the same genre or for other RPGs... unfortunately, AP is owned by SEGA, and they're not interested in doing a sequel, so we'd have to do something else (which is fine with me).
BF: One of the things I love best about making this project is that I am simply not worried about how to get to the larger audience. My attitude is that if we make a great game they will find us. The fans have been very clear about the experience they want and I'm not going to dilute the approach based on the worry of some player that may or may not like RPGs. That said I can't imagine how anyone would not love a post-apocalyptic RPG with sandbox game-play, twisted humor, tactical combat and incredible music and graphics.
BF: (On Bards Tale's recent remake) We have had a great response from the writing in that game. I was in a funky mood and wanted to make a parody and for that I think it was well done. If you were expecting a Bard's Tale along the same lines as the first trilogy then you would be unhappy. But I assure you that I won't be doing any more parodies and that it will be straight forward RPGs from here on out. It's funny because we have some groups of people that want a sequel to that version of Bard's Tale.
CA: (Favorite Tabletop RPG system) The Hero System. It's math intensive, but it allows you to make extremely customized player characters, which I think is the essence of role-playing.
CA: (on DRM) Almost every anti-piracy measure I've seen has mostly pissed people off and (in the words of Gabe Newell, I think) if you're doing something that pisses your customers off, you might want to re-examine it.
CA: Firefly is one of my favorite universes, and I wish someone would start a Kickstarter to get them all back.
CA: (on Mass Effect 3's ending) I'm fine with sad/tragic endings, and that's what it was. I do think that it makes listening and responding to fan expectations all the more important (which is our job anyway).
CA: (Favourite thing in the universe) Pepperoni pizza.
CA: Yes, and to be fair, I don't solely play RPGs - I look for a blend b/c I worry focusing solely on RPG gameplay may blind me to other cool elements other genres are doing. So for example, it's important to me to play Limbo, Frozen Synapse, Dear Esther, Amnesia, Dead Island (the city's worth it), Psychonauts. That said, I've learned a lot from KOA: The Reckoning (especially in terms of combat, which I feel is fluid), Costume Quest, and Fallout(s), including the DLC for F3.
Getting a job in the industry
CA: This is a long answer, but here's the short version:
- Write for video games and mods before you even get a job in the industry (and we'll look for any work like this on your resume).
- Network. If you want to get into video game writing, you'll want to try and get to Austin GDC (GDC Online, which has a narrative design track just for game writers) in October so you can speak to other writers in the industry.
- Also, not to self-promote, but check my Obsidian blog, I have additional suggestions there, although you may need to scroll down a bit.
Fallout 2 areas and environments project
One of our previous "Orphaned Projects" has reached its end... Here's Crimson Frankie
- "The Fallout 2 areas and environments project was a project aimed at adding in-game images to all main Fallout 2 locations. It was launched. It was abandoned. I adopted this "orphaned" project two weeks ago and started working hard on it. I never understood why such a great idea couldn't get carried on. Ok, several locations (the most notable ones) already had in-game pictures added over time, but incredibly some ones were still lacking (parts of San Francisco, pretty much all of the Mercenaries' Cave, part of Stables and the Den; as well as all Layout section in NCR, and all the cut locations). After much work, it is with great satisfaction that I announce the project's completion. Anyone who finds other locations in Fallout 2 lacking in-game pictures, please let me know and I'll do what I can to help. At least we can say that the main articles are done and improved.
Is anyone free to arrange some medals for this project?
New User Network
MysteryStranger had a comment he wanted to add on Crimson Frankie's Graduation:
- Although we started on a rough edge, by my suggestion Crimson Frankie signed on the New User Network. Apparently, he knows his way around, given the edits he made later. When he started the project (with help of Yes-Man), I knew he would made a good contributor. So, let's all give a big thanks to Crimson Frankie for his edits!
Fallout 3/New vegas quote project
Tocinoman has started a new project to add quotes to Fallout 3 and New Vegas pages. From the project page.
The Fallout 3 and New Vegas quotations project is a project which aims to add page-top quotations to all Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas characters/locations/quests/factions articles. Nothing like a good quote in the beginning of the article to stylise it and make the wiki more conceptual and attractive.”
Congratulations and thanks
Congratulations and thanks to our Number 1 Editor this week, Jspoelstra has achieved the "Saviour of the damned" badge for contributing to this wiki at least once per day, every day, for a year. He's the first user of in the history of the wiki to achieve this feat.
Bethesda's Lawyers get a work out
The Escapist has a story prompted by Bethesda issuing a Cease and desist on Erling Løken Andersen, who had been high quality image files of posters found in the Fallout series that can be taken to printing shops to reproduce tjem. Although he has complied, Andersen is planning a legal offensive in order to be able to these items available again.
(Thanks to GarouxBloodline and Limmiegirl) Edit: Corrected as not selling, providing Free of Charge.
No Relic this week
The AMA stuff has just gone on too long for me to be able to do a Relic this week, it will be back with us next week.
Your Next Nukapedia News Digest
Friday is your News Day. Thats the way it is, Goodnight. Agent c 19:21, April 20, 2012 (UTC)