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J.E. Saywer post roundup

Ausir December 4, 2010 User blog:Ausir

Here's another roundup of forum and Formspring posts by J.E. Sawyer.

Dead Money level cap increase:

I'm not the project director on Dead Money, but personally, I don't care about the presence/absence/raising of level caps haven't in any game ever. I think a lot of players like having level caps raised because it allows them to continue with character progression.

Blasting locks with explosives:

It was specifically excluded because it makes Lockpick obsolete. Why take a skill that allows you to unlock doors and containers when you can take a skill that allows you to blow up enemies and also unlock doors and containers? Unless the materials cost of the explosive charges is significant, it really disincentivizes you from putting points in Lockpick.

Missing DLC pop-up:

The "Missing DLC" pop-up can happen for a variety of reasons, so I can't say for certain. However, we have fixed the major known causes of those corruption issues (Caleb McCaffrey's hat for Debt Collector and dead bodies falling outside of the Havok world) for the upcoming patch.

Why not write different generic lines for different voice actors?

The way voices are organized "under the hood" in the engine promotes consistency in lines for a variety of reasons. It's a little time-consuming to describe, but that's basically why.

Doc Mitchell:

Doc Mitchell sympathizes more with the Courier than some random patient and he does explain why if you ask him.

Why snowglobes?

It's partially for the Citizen Kane reference, partially because it's especially fitting for Mr. House. He has no interest in physically interacting with the world but wants absolute control over New Vegas. Snow globes are perfect static worlds in miniature that can't be directly touched but can be (literally) turned upside down any time the owner desires.

Legion and women:

  • ~ IRL ~* the role of women in Roman society was a small step up from slavery. Aristocratic women enjoyed comfortable lives, but they were virtually owned by their husbands.

Of course women weren't present in the Roman military, which is all that the Legion really resembles: a roving army supported by slave labor and continually re-stocked by conquered tribes.

Why bottle caps?

I can't speak for the caps in the Capital Wasteland, but the Hub isn't tremendously far from Nevada and merchants have been traveling through that area for a while. If you tell someone, "Hey, these bottlecaps can be exchanged directly for water at the Hub!" and it's confirmed to be legit -- well, bottlecaps weigh a lot less than water.

But why would Mojave Wastelanders care about Hub water as a commodity when they're close to two sources of fresh water already?

Because Mojave merchants have to travel through the Hub, and unless they want to carry double the water on the way in (significantly undercutting the amount of trade goods they can carry), they have to buy it at the Hub.

EDIT: Also there is effectively only one active pipeline in the Mojave Wasteland: the one leading from Lake Mead to New Vegas. It's under NCR control and has been for a while. Every community in the Mojave Wasteland that is not located directly next to a source of water has a water tower that is filled by people bringing in/selling water the old-fashioned way.

More on currency:

NCR's money is fiat; they abandoned gold-backed currency during the early phases of the BoS-NCR conflict due to repeated (successful) attacks on NCR's gold reserves. NCR bills read "NOT PAYABLE IN SPECIE". Its low value relative to caps is due to inflation.

Caps are water-backed by Hub merchants because outside of the Mojave River (a pretty meager flow), there are few natural water sources near the Hub and it sits at the heart of a major trade network. If you talk to Chief Hanlon, he tells you how people neglected, ruined, or otherwise irresponsibly drained most of the pre-war man-made lakes in California.

The Legion uses precious metals for most of the same reasons ancient cultures did: they are not consumables, they are rare, and they are difficult to counterfeit.

NCR's money is set to a value defined by fiat; it is not backed by anything. Caps are effectively the currency promoted by the Hub's (very powerful) merchants/caravan companies. Caps are backed by water, meaning that you could walk into the Hub, go to where the Hub's merchants keep their vast water reserves, and exchange caps directly for water.

NCR in the Mojave:

The Ranger Unification Treaty was signed in 2271, ten years before F:NV. Much earlier than that, merchants were already using the "Long 15" as a trade route; NCR as a government/military force was not present until around the RUT.

AP regeneration:

We also made a change in F:NV where you regenerate a percentage of your total AP per second instead of a fixed value (F3). Higher AP = more AP regenerated per second.

Brotherhood of Steel:

IMO, it's more appropriate to think of West Coast BoS as monks than knights. They are an insular order concerned with preservation and maintenance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHha7MWh6YA#t=5m45s

Sawyer's songs:

Were the songs you wrote intended to be played on the radio in Fallout NV, or just for the Tops shows?

Just for the Tops shows, though I think some folks internally talked about having them on the radio. Personally I think they disrupt the feel of the "legit" recordings on the radio, so I'm fine with them being Tops-only.

Quest designer question:

Who designed Crazy, Crazy, Crazy? It was a pretty simple but well-designed quest, with some of the most fun combat of the game.

Jesse Farrell

Definition of RPG again:

David Gaider of Bioware says in Gamepro this month that RPG are games where "the player has a significant effect on the story." Do you agree that is an acceptable definition of a genre now very eclectic and diluted?

David's definition is not too far from my own. I believe that RPGs must allow the player to define and express the personality of his or her character in a way that changes the story "meaningfully" (pretty arbitrary, but it's my definition so...).

In most games where you can change elements of the story, you have the ability to do this through the the character in a way that makes it an expression of personality, so functionally the definitions are pretty similar.

Also it doesn't really matter what we think or say, just what we do and what players accept. BioWare and Obsidian both make games where you can define and express the personality of your character(s) in a way that changes the story meaningfully. We call these games RPGs, they're marketed as RPGs, and people buy/review them as RPGs.

There are games made by other companies that don't fit this definition but are still described/marketed/sold as RPGs, so it's really an ongoing war of defining/redefining these conventions as we choose.

Terrible mods:

Do all the terrible mods on the Nexus sites make you angry? I don't understand why some people think playing with a character that looks like a barbie doll with a ridiculously over the top hair style is cool. Never mind all the pedophile mods.

My tastes are not the tastes of the average gamer, and there are obviously gamers that have very specific tastes that are even more different. I may not like the aesthetic or mechanical changes that people make, but it's hard to really get worked up about what people do in mods. It's their game and they've put in the effort to make it more to their tastes.

Inconsistent weapon design?

The art design in New Vegas feels really inconsistent when it comes to weapons. Most of them seem really grounded in terms of visual design, but the 10mm and 12.7mm guns seem really incongruous. Is this something you thought about?

The 10mm and 12.7mm guns are some of the only "future guns" and both take their basic design cues from Fallout 1/2 weapons: the 10mm Pistol (slightly different design) and the 14mm Pistol.

If you look at a Browning Hi-Power, Desert Eagle, and a Ruger Blackhawk, you're going to see a lot of different design elements going on, but those are all weapons that are currently used in our world.

And more:

The fact that they're in older games, or that the inconsistency was in previous games, doesn't really matter. In FO1/2 it wasn't as apparently because there were only a handful of world map sprites (small pistol, big pistol, etc)

I disagree. It's a world with sawed-off shotguns, missile launchers, power fists, and plasma rifles. From F1 to F:NV, it's always been a grab bag of weapon styles and I think that's one of the appealing things about it.

Fallout 3.5?

Does it bother you that F:NV is considered Fallout 3.5 even with large structural differences as far as quest design and exploration go? Which by the way, a lot of players seem to have noticed judging by the complaints and praise on the official boards.

Not at all.

Casino games:

Why weren't more games like dice or poker included? Especially since there are 'out of order' tables at every casino. Is this a cheap ploy to add more games via DLC, or was a game like poker to complex to implement in the time constraints?

Craps and Texas Hold 'Em are both relatively complex games in different ways. The craps tables are present as decoration only.

Unkillable characters:

"The game's design philosophy is that if you have line of sight to a character, the player must be able to kill that character (excepting children) using standard game mechanics." Wasn't making Lanius unkillable in Veni, Vidi, Vici a violation of that?

General Oliver and Legate Lanius both violate that, but disallowing player control during those sequences seemed preferable to putting them behind a bulletproof glass wall. Allowing the player to kill them during a sequence where they've already elected to support that faction also seemed pointless.

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