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Asked whether the G.E.C.K. editor that Bethesda and Obsidian is substantially different than the one released to the public, Fallout: New Vegas lead designer J.E. Sawyer replied in the Bethesda forum:
The retail GECK is almost identical to the dev GECK. Version control is the one very notable difference. Obviously having access to the source code allows Bethesda to build-in/retrofit for things that designers can't do through the GECK itself, which endusers can't do.
Believe me -- we had the same sort of problem when NWN2 was released. People insisted that we could not possibly have made NWN2 with the retail toolset. To an extent, that's true; for most of development, the NWN2 toolset was actually much, much worse.”
In a previous thread, he also discussed problems with Neverwinter Nights 2 development and how Obsidian has learned from this:
NWN2 had an extremely chaotic development cycle in part because the team attempted to change too much about the engine in the given amount of time. Completely re-writing the renderer (and UI system) took a huge amount of resources. Adding a new layer to the animation system without fully understanding the existing system was very problematic. Re-doing the collision and pathing systems -- you get the idea. More refactoring and new features would have been a better plan. The company has collectively learned its lesson in this regard.
If you've played Mask of the Betrayer, I hope you believe that we are capable of developing more distinctive characters and less linear gameplay in interesting settings.”
I can't speak for all system designers at Obsidian, but what I described is my outlook on system design and it always drives the process. Core gameplay prototyping should define the basic style and flow of gameplay, with character advancement being developed from that core.
I think F3's opening did a better job than most at integrating a relatively elaborate CC process into a narrative framework. By comparison, for example, Mass Effect basically just has you build an appearance, select a class and background, and sends you on your way. NWN2 allows you to define a lot of things about your character, but ultimately it's a pretty boring CC experience.
Of those, I think NWN2's CC was the worst overall. You had a ton of fiddly options, but those options were presented poorly; you had no connection to the story; and generally it felt like you were interacting with an interface instead of playing the game. Mass Effect's CC was short and to the point. It was somewhat bland, but at least it explained the basic options clearly, got you into the game quickly, and immediately referenced your background. F3's took a while, but it was well-integrated with the Vault 101 sequence. My biggest issue with F3's CC sequence is that it did not give you an opportunity to use all of your skills in Vault 101. When you finally escape, there are several skills you've had no opportunity to use (e.g. Barter, Big Guns, Explosives, Science [I think] etc.), which makes it difficult to re-evaluate your character before exiting.”
damage threshold basically makes armor feel better in any game system. just saiyan.”
He also revealed some previously unknown, mind-blowing details about Fallout: New Vegas:
Fallout: New Vegas will feature graphics, sound, and even musical sounds.
Let's hope that we'll hear some actual Fallout: New Vegas news soon!