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Yet another New Vegas dev post roundup

Ausir December 16, 2010 User blog:Ausir

Here's another roundup of Fallout: New Vegas developer posts, including news on the Xbox 360 patch release date and another portion of J.E. Sawyer posts.

Xbox 360 patch:

From what I'm hearing now, there's a good chance it'll be up around 2AM PST on Thursday.

Matt Grandstaff

Dead Money trailer:

We'll definitely be releasing a trailer. It'll be before the content gets released.

Matt Grandstaff

And here's the J.E. Sawyer portion of today's roundup:

Negative reception of Caesar's Legion:

Were you honestly expecting such a negative reception for Caesar's Legion?

I don't really think there has been a tremendously negative reaction to Caesar's Legion. Some people really hate various aspects of the Legion but most people either don't seem to care or like the Legion. I'd rather have people show strong opinions about a well-defined enemy than have everyone shrug their shoulders at Generic Bad Dude Faction #825.

Caesar's Legion and moral greyness:

Doesn't your answer kind of implies that Caesar's Legion is "non-generic" bad guy faction? It kinda clashes with your promises of moral grayness.

Caesar's Legion is positioned as a faction that regularly does brutal things with the belief (Caesar's belief, anyway) that it will eventually lead to a much better, more stable, future. NCR is positioned as a faction that regularly does good things but systemically "loses" causes and pushes people around through neglect, bureaucratic inefficiency, and petty jealousy/spite.

The player's first encounters with each group are intentionally "bad guy"/"good guy" to set up an expectation that changes over time. While it well may be that people end F:NV believing that Caesar's Legion is the best solution to the problems in the Mojave Wasteland, I don't think many folks walk away thinking, "Misogynist slaver tyrants are really cool, good folks."

And honestly, what I say outside of the context of the game doesn't really have any bearing on what you think or what any player thinks. In the game, you're given the option to fully support the Legion's conquest of New Vegas/the Mojave Wasteland.

Caesar's Legion again:

Short version: Caesar takes whatever pieces of history he finds useful and disregards things he doesn't find useful. He has specific goals and uses history as a tool to meet those goals. When history doesn't help him, he doesn't use it. Even things like a reluctance to use advanced technology have more to do with his desire to keep the Legion ignorant/dependent on him than with anything "historical". Control is very important to him, even if it means that the people who serve him lack any of the medical knowledge necessary to help diagnose or treat his problems. It's very important for Caesar to maintain that the Legion is different. It is physically different, has different values, and different priorities. When Romans were wearing pants, they thought people wearing skirts were barbarians. When Romans wore togas, they thought people wearing pants were barbarians. People on the other side of that river wear pants. Our identity is good, your identity is bad.

Clearly there are many things Caesar does that work against his goals, or choices he made to emphasize one goal over a conflicting goal and it resulted in problems. But it's important to understand that Caesar calls the shots in the Legion. And when Caesar's not around, it's someone following his lead. Whether that's Lanius or Joshua Graham, there's not going to be a fun party when one of these guys rolls into your town. Events in the vein of Tamerlane and Simon de Montfort are going to happen. Events that culminate in pyramids of human heads, mass blindings, and burning a cathedral down with an entire congregation inside.

Why don't the slaves rebel:

This almost never happens. Conquered men, women, children, elderly people -- they don't spontaneously rise up and try to kill people who abuse and oppress them. Most people are not heroic. Most people are easily terrified, especially once they have already been placed in subjugated position. And if they are heroic, they usually die heroic deaths, alone. It continues to happen all over the world. Right now, somewhere, someone is being beaten and horribly abused and even if given the opportunity to strike back at the person doing the abuse, they won't take it.

In Roman Britain, the tribes didn't stage a successful coup against the occupying forces even when given ample opportunity and more than enough reason to unite. On three separate occasions, the governor of Britain broke off from the empire. Even in a state of Roman civil war, the tribes were unable to eject the Romans. The one very notable case of rebellion was during Suetonius Paulinus' campaign in what is now Wales. The leader of the Iceni, Boudica, was beaten and her daughters were [censored] because Boudica challenged the transition of her late husband's authority to the Roman governor (Paulinus). Only with Londinium essentially vacated of military forces did the Iceni and Trinovantes dare to attack. They were successful in causing a huge amount of civilian damage, but in the end, Paulinus' troops rolled over the Iceni and routed them. The nearby Brigantes provided essentially no help to the Iceni and at least one source suggests Boudica may have even been poisoned by the Brigantes' queen. Someone mentioned Nero earlier; it's worth noting that all of this happened under Nero's rule and Rome still easily held Britain despite Nero's general lack of... being good as an emperor.

This pattern can be found a lot in history. It's rare for spontaneous uprisings to happen against conquerors. Or rather, it's more appropriate to say that it is extremely common for abusive occupation to go effectively uncontested for years, decades, or even centuries.

Reply to a lengthy list of slave revolts in Rome:

Now list all of the years where there were no revolts worthy of entry into any surviving historical record. The republic lasted for about 500 years, the subsequent empire for another 500 before it fractured/collapsed. For 1000 years, that's really not much revolt.

I think it is odd that you choose to highlight the exceptions rather than the very obvious reality that defined the rule: the Roman republic and empire lived and thrived on slave labor for one thousand years. The vast majority of people who were born into slavery or were taken in as slaves, lived their whole lives as slaves and died as slaves.

Yes, many slaves in the antebellum American south ran away. The overwhelming majority did not do so until their plantations (typically) were so obviously abandoned that there was no fear of reprisal. Running away is also very different from rising up against. It's certainly very different from the scenario you initially described where everyone who is not a legionary is continuously watching and waiting for an opportunity to bravely attack their captors. I also didn't suggest that no one would resist. Bitter Springs is a refugee camp consisting of NCR military personnel watching over (mostly) escaped slaves. But for every escaped slave, there are a bunch of corpses of slaves and a bunch of badly beaten slaves who didn't make it. And for every one of them, there are probably a dozen people who never attempted to escape and never will. There are so many cases of long-lasting oppression and enslavement in human history that the exceptions just register as tiny blips to me. People like Boudica and Spartacus are exceptional specifically because the vast majority of people who were oppressed by the Romans wound up being silently ground into the dust over a lifetime of war or servitude.

EDIT: For some additional perspective on how I view these things, most of what I studied in college was social history, which often comes across as a huge foot stomping on millions of faces for a few thousand years.

Latin:

The pronunciation of Latin in the game is based on classical, not ecclesiastic, rules of pronunciation. While it is difficult for us to know how Latin was actually pronounced in the time of Julius Caesar, classical pronunciation assumes that the presence or absence of certain letter/sound combinations in the surviving languages of Romanized cultures can inform our understanding. The most obvious example is the name "Caesar" itself, one of the earliest Latin loan words to Germanic languages, which became "Kaiser". Another is a word Caesar himself used, "Celtæ". Greek historians used the word "Κελτοί", and there's not a lot of debate over how that's pronounced. Just as Italian doesn't follow Latin pronunciation (and in fact pretty much abandoned case, which is an enormous part of Latin -- thanks Jabby), Old French and Late Latin softened many of the Latin consonants before they entered English. Thus, we have people hissing at each other over the pronunciation of "Celt" and "celtic": Anglicized Latin words passed to us through Old French from the days of the Roman Republic, where they had been borrowed from a Greek word that was likely a self-identifying term for a tribe on the Iberian peninsula. Inappropriately, we almost always use those terms to refer to Irish people and things.

Anyhoo, generally speaking, if you find an academic textbook on Latin pronunciation these days, it's going to follow classical rules. If you're taught Latin through your local church, you may very well learn Italianate/ecclesiastic rules. Caesar learned from academic textbooks, so he passed on that tradition.

If you did learn Italian today (you should), the Italian you learned would not be the same as the Tuscan Italian spoken/codified by Dante. And the German that people learn today is not the German that my grandmother learned when she was a little girl, much less the Althochdeutsch dialects spoken by dudes cruising around the HRE in the 10th century. Even closely related languages that look very similar can sound completely different. E.g. Danish and Icelandic. They're both North Germanic, but Danish doesn't really sound anything like Icelandic despite both languages having close original ties.Over time, pronunciations change. Some places never change their pronunciations and other places shift rapidly and radically over time.

Balancing:

The full changelog would be a novella, but I can say that balance-wise, a lot of energy weapon stats were changed (usually a change to DAM and ammo cost), energy ammo was modified (duh), sniper rifle and Gobi DAM/crit chance multipliers were lowered, missile launcher and fat man had DAM increases, a boatload of recipes were made a lot simpler (fewer ingredients and a lower count per ingredient), Caravan AI should now play face cards against the player, merchants will stop playing Caravan with the player after five games, and "some other stuff".

Fat Man and missile launcher:

BTW the Missile Launcher and Fat Man both got a decent DAM boost with the patch.

Fine-tuning explosives:

Damage scales from the center of the explosion to the outer radius with an inversely square progression. This means that it drops very quickly. The initial tuning I did for explosives was based off a misunderstanding of how the explosion radii worked. I addressed the Missile Launcher and Fat Man for the most recent patch, but did not get a chance to tune other explosives.

EDIT: Also, the Gobi doesn't hit an area the size of a small city park. Fat Men and Missile Launchers aren't intended to be used against single targets. From the way some of you guys talk, I get the impression you won't be happy unless Fat Men/Missile Launchers one-shot every BoS Paladin in T-51b and Deathclaw Alpha Male in a 100 yard radius.

I may have tuned a few other explosives, but the Missile Launcher and Fat Man were definitely tuned up significantly.

Because of their inverse square damage falloff, capital-E Explosives are difficult to tune. Many of them hit a large area, but their damage drops very quickly. They should do enough damage to significantly weaken or outright kill certain types of enemies, but if they reach a point where they easily wipe out everything in a huge area, there's little point to leveling the Explosives skill outside of qualifying for perks. If the base DAM is tuned extremely high to allow the falloff to be dangerous, hitting the target (or even coming close) stops being relevant, which further discourages advancing the Explosives skill. More than Guns or Energy Weapons, Explosives has been hard to balance.


Coyotes and energy weapons:

Most dogs and coyotes have "tough dog" DT, which I believe is 2. That's exactly the amount negated by standard EW ammo post-patch.

Rifles:

All-American is useful as a general purpose all-range weapon because of its high RoF, capacity, and accuracy. Against certain targets, like Cazadores, lightly armored raiders (e.g. leveled Vipers or Jackals), or Legionaries, it can mow down a large number of enemies at long range very quickly. It's not really a long-range sniping weapon like the Sniper Rifles or AMR, especially if heavy armor is involved, but it's very handy. Ammo for it is also not too expensive, especially if you use 5.56mm Surplus or .223.

Even with the lowered DAM on the Sniper Rifle and Gobi, those weapons are still the most effective sniping tools against moderately armored targets with significant health (especially with .308 JSP). The All-American can have difficulty getting through the armor unless 5.56mm AP is used. And against the big solo targets, the AMR is, if not required, recommended.

La Longue Carabine and the scoped Trail Carbine can also be good mid-range semi-sniper weapons but are not as accurate as the above weapons (esp. La Longue Carabine) and/or lack AP ammo -- though JFP and SWCs can help.

And if you want to wade into battle from mid range and closer without bothering with sniping, This Machine will mop the floor pretty handily.

The goal with the rifles overall was to give reasons to use each of them in a variety of situations, with some situations being more well suited for one weapon over the other.

Game length:

What's your take on the whole "achievements show only half of players finish a game so we're going to make them shorter" thing?

While I don't think we should design games to be unappealing to people, I also don't think we should cater to folks who stop playing. Our goal should be to make the experience more compelling so that fewer people stop. In some cases that may mean having less content so what's there is more well-polished, but I don't think we should cater to folks who generally don't get anywhere in games.

Races:

Why is their no option to make your character of Middle Eastern and Indian decent with 'Asian' meaning purely the mongoloid race

We just used the "races" that existed in F3.

9mm SMG:

Why was the 9mm SMG based on a scaled-down Grease Gun instead of the highly-underrated Swedish K (or its American clone, the S&W M76)? Filmmakers love the K (see: The Omega Man, Pelham 1-2-3, The Dark Knight), but it's never been in a single game!

Because M3s rule and a tiny M3 is even cooler IMO.

Caravan bug:

Will that one Caravan bug be fixed? The one where the AI opponent won't play face cards on your caravans.

I believe that is fixed in the most recent patch.

Kings and Elvis:

If the Kings are an entire gang of Elvis impersonators, why do only Pacer and The King do the voice?

Everyone else sucks at it.

Energy weapons:

Who made up all of the energy weapons?

I tuned all of the EW stats (too low for a lot of them, unfortunately), but the EWs were modeled and textured mostly by Mitch Ahlswede, Paul Fish, and Aaron Brown.

War and oil:

Not to sound dumb, but why have a war over oil when everything is powered by small nuclear devices? A single nuclear unit in the home would take care of all power and heating needs.

Nuclear power still requires fuel and new fuel sources require new infrastructure. If we were to find a fantastic new source of fuel tomorrow, it would be a long time before diesel and gasoline internal combustion engines were off the road.

Additionally, petroleum is used in so many different products that even if we completely switched over to non-petroleum-based fuels we'd still be quite dependent on it.

Searchlight:

Whose idea was Searchlight? I like the backstory a lot, particularly the pre-war part.

I wrote the basic high-level design documents for all major locations in the game. For Searchlight the high-level design for the back story was essentially "Guys carrying waste from San Onofre stop in Searchlight when war breaks out, local police tell them to park the trucks in the fire department, one takes off for Cottonwood Cove hoping to get as far away from the blast centers as possible."

Denise McMurry did all of the actual "for real" area design for Searchlight including writing all of the logs for the area.

Why no hunting rifle sight for Brush Gun?

Because it's a top-eject lever-action rifle that frequently has receiver-mounted peep sights installed. The main issue we ran into was getting the view point close enough to the aperture without having the bolt flying into the player's eyeball.

M16 sights are wrong:

The Service Rifle and Assault Carbine aren't "M16s" and even if they were, M16s and AR-15s don't have standardized sights. There are dozens of different options for civilian and military applications. The position of the center post of the front sight relative the outer flanges varies a great deal. The standard M16A2 front sight post is only slightly lower than the flanges. With a peep sight, as long as the center post's top ends immediately at dead center for the zeroed range, it doesn't really matter where the outer flanges are. Well, it matters for the sight picture you're most comfortable with, but you aren't aiming with the flanges.

There's a lot of other stuff on the Service Rifle and Assault Carbine that also differs from "standard" M16s (e.g. right side charging handle), but that shouldn't be too surprising considering a) they're not called M16s and b) the AR-15 one of the most versatile and modular weapon platforms on the planet.

Guns:

I don't agree that Guns are inherently better. Even running around with "just" the Plasma Pistol feels good. It really tears low level enemies apart. With OC ammo, there's almost nothing in the first few plot-progression areas that has enough armor and HP to survive more than a few shots. EWs do have a higher cost of maintenance than Guns, but I believe they are easily competitive in general combat capability post-patch.

Companion leveling:

Another thing: all companions should level properly now and their stats have been adjusted to be less... all over the place. As about a billion people have noted, Boone started off inordinately strong. Pre-patch, he actually had over 100 Guns (something like 117, I think) as soon as he joined the party. He should still be pretty tough, but not as nuts.

Veronica levels properly, ED-E's weapons have been tweaked a lot, Rex's quest completion upgrades were re-worked a bit, and almost everyone stats were tweaked one way or another. In basic terms, it will mean that Veronica and Boone start out weaker than before, Veronica won't run out of steam, and characters like Arcade and Raul will actually have pretty good skills (finally).

Oh, and Cass now effectively has Shotgun Surgeon via the CompanionSuite perk added behind the scenes.

Merchants and Caravan:

Merchants who play Caravan will play you five times and then stop. You can make quite a bit of money off of them still, but there is an eventual end to the madness.

Not all Caravan players are merchants. Only the merchants will stop playing you. The other folks will continue to play you as long as they have money.

Spread and wobble:

The Spread field in GECK does nothing. The Min Spread is a cone angle deviation from where the weapon is pointing at any given moment in time. Ammo that affects spread typically multiplies the existing spread number, but has no effect on where the weapon is pointing. Also, there is no progressive recoil mechanic.

Additionally, weapons have "wobble" if any of the following is true:

  • You are standing.
  • You are moving.
  • You are not aiming.
  • One or two of your arms are crippled.
  • You don't meet the ST requirement.
  • You don't meet the skill requirement.

If none of those are true, you will have a tiny bit of wobble. If all of those are true, you will have a tremendous amount of wobble. That is why it is best to keep your limbs intact, meet all requirements, crouch, aim, and stand still before firing.

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