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News for Thursday, July 31, 2008

Posted by Per - at 1:41

If you think it's been too long since we reported on the financial state of Interplay you'll be mildly pleased to hear that they just filed a Form 8-K about settling a debt with Atari. Fallout connection: tenuous.

On July 24, 2008, the Company entered into an Option Exercise Agreement (the "Agreement") with Atari Interactive, Inc. ("Atari Interactive"). Under the Agreement, Atari Interactive and the Company settled outstanding disputes among them, including in connection with an existing Promissory Note dated August 19, 2004 of the Company in favor of Atari Interactive (the "Note"). Pursuant to the Agreement, Atari Interactive exercised an existing option to purchase, and purchased, from the Company intellectual property rights developed by the Company in connection with the Dungeons & Dragons games and the balance of all amounts due from the Company to Atari Interactive under the Note of approximately $1,050,000.00 was cancelled and terminated.
So away goes the Dark Alliance IP and the result is not more money to fund FOOL, but less debt, which may or may not amount to the same thing.

Posted by Per - at 1:33

Dutch gaming site Gennext Games (whose traffic is a fraction of NMA's, in case you're left scratching your head) received an invitation to play Fallout 3 in Amsterdam. The result is a preview and video interview. The interview is almost ten minutes long, but the sound is pretty bad and it doesn't contain anything new that I could make out. An English translation of the preview has been posted on the BGSF by the writer, who is also offering additional comments.

The choice of real time combat and the possiblity of 'pausing' the game to target body parts of enemies is awesome. I was afraid i was gonna hate this feature but it's actually quite awesome. I do have to say it doesn't work perfect yet...for example...this dog 'vicious dog' was very close to me, so i 'paused' the game and target his head 4 times...all times he missed. And there are times that you'll blast his head right off. it has to do with experience points though....but it's kinda weird when you are that close and you just miss it, lol.

[..]

As for the graphics, well i was standing ridiculously close to the LCD tv, so aliasing all around, but when i stepped away a bit it looked awesome, and that's how you play games..not with your nose almost into the screen, you know, lol. The draw distance is impressive, very impressive, it rarely happens that things pop up, ok...they do, but rarely. Birds flying around in the air, realistic looking water (toxic as hell though, can't survive long in water,radiation, etc.) nice textures, especially this certain city looked very nice , very atmospheric. Some areas didn't look as polished...but they have time left to fix that and really...it's nothing to [censored] about really.

[..]

But it's the little details that count in a game like this...i saw this big wasp..i think they call it 'bloatfly' , i shot it's wings and he dropped to the floor, you can also headshot these wasps, lol. During another headshot on a human opponent i actually spotted a eyeball flying around..gruesome, yeah...lovely.
The following was offered by the previewer on the Bethboard:
Well, i read that Eurogamer was also very negative about the game. I didn't bother to read it though cause most other sources..especially IGN was incredibly positive about the game. Plus that the game has already won several awards for best game of the show and many other things like that. That's what the developer told us today. I'm glad that all of you are happy...that was my intention...i was quite enthusiastic about the game..so i wanted to share all this with fellow Fallout 3 fans.
I'm sure a lot of people are feeling a little less ambivalent now.

Our own alec provides a more complete English translation with fewer lols in it.

Thanks to Some Random Guy.

News for Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Posted by Per - at 16:29

We could have waited and done an interview round-up. This time, Scandinavian Game reactor puts up an E3 video interview with Todd, who seems a little spooked especially after this exchange:

GR: I found it's not easy to trust the people who are in [Megaton].

Todd: Why, what happened?

GR: Well, I think they lied to me.

Todd: ... Who's that?

GR: I don't know, that guy called Moriarty.

Todd: Yeah, don't talk to him.

GR: But it's hard to advance the game if I don't.

Todd: You're not supposed to talk about that, it's off limits.
They also talk about things the reporter had not been asked to keep quiet about, like the combat system:
GR: How do you see people playing it? You can play it in real-time, of course, and then it's just like a normal shooter. Do you feel that that is a problem for you guys, that you want to steer people into playing it more like a role-playing game? How do you feel about that?

Todd: I think even when you're doing it in real time, the role-playing is there, because you have accuracy that affects from your stats how much damage you're doing. We want the game to make sure it plays well both ways, and then the player can decide for himself which way he wants to take, and we found most people, it's about 50/50, real-time versus V.A.T.S.
About the humour in the game, Todd says there'll be one-liners worth quoting around the lunch table.

Thanks to Anani Masu.

Posted by Per - at 3:13

Jonathan Zungre conducted an E3 interview with Pete Hines for Ripten, on topics such as influences, the Perfect Life trailer (and Pete's original idea for it), Achievements and other stuff.

Zungre: What about the moral choices you make in the game, I remember hearing that stressed a whole lot. There seems to be a lot of games that make you make moral choices and they punish or reward you accordingly, but what separates Fallout 3 from those other games? And did you want to make the player feel something when they make a choice?

Pete Hines: Absolutely, yeah, we definitely wanted it to be about “in the moment.” Like you’re presented with dialogue options, you’re presented with choices on how your going to complete this quest, and, you know, what are you going to do? It’s like, “God, I’m really not sure if I feel comfortable doing X or Y”, or you know, maybe it’s really funny because it’s really evil. “I totally have to do that, just to see what happens.”

It’s more about presenting the player with interesting choices that are obvious and seeing which way they want to go and having that be satisfying. It’s also fun to allow the player to see if they can figure out their own way of doing stuff and then account for that. So like, “oh, I don’t wanna do that, I’m going to try this. I’m gonna see what happens if I kill this guy.” And then the game has planned on that and reacted to it.
There'll be Achievements for wacky things people wouldn't usually do, but since they'll be known in advance, people will do them anyway. Not that I know or care about Achievements, but wouldn't it be a much cooler idea if people didn't know in advance and actually could go, "oh, wow, hidden Achievement"? Maybe I just don't get it.

Posted by Per - at 2:50

There's a video interview with Todd Howard from E3. Now with 100% more Polish subtitling. Also questions about dialogue instead of explosions!

GOL: So what is actually the balance between combat and conversations and story in this game?

Todd: Well, it depends how you play the game, where you're gonna spend your time, if you're out in the wasteland there's a lot more combat, it's a dangerous place, and then when you go to the towns, it's primarily dialogue-focused.

GOL: So is there just more conversations or they are longer? How long do they get actually?

Todd: The conversations get really long, it depends on the character and the situation, if you're meeting a guy for the first time, it's usually about who he is, what town is he in, how are you gonna act toward him, and if you are on a quest and you're trying to get information, we try to branch that as much as possible, so you're using your Speech skills, and then we also have times when we'll use maybe a particular perk, will open up dialogue options, or a particular stat you have that's very very high, will open up dialogue options, 'cause that's a big part of role-playing your character.
Thanks to Ausir.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:12

Vaultaire and MrBumble have translated the Q&A-style preview of Fallout 3 based on questions submitted to Canard PC.

Does the post-apocalyptic atmosphere well implemented?
With the wasteland filled with destroyed, rusted, moulding artifacts, yes. If we refer to previous Fallouts, it is clear that the game designers opted for a less original setting, despite it being so bound to the series. We find certain visual things: Vault Boy, ads for Nuka Cola etc,. Even more, the world of Fallout 3 feels empty. Too empty. The explanation of a nuclear holocaust is plausible, but wandering the wasteland we only came across one mutant dog and a sort of giant mole aroused a boring sense of loneliness. We can ransack various places (trash cans, -- buildings, etc) but the things that we find spoilt a bit the atmosphere of the game. For example, we found three frag grenades in a letter box along with a dose of Psycho.

Does the AI suck as much as it appears in the gameplay videos?
Yes, unfortunately, it’s one of the main faults of the full version of Fallout 3. The mobs are totally stupid, with NPCs that flee in the direction of their aggressors, enemies that find themselves running on the spot, blocked by a too-low platform ( enabling me to re-arrange their faces during combat), rats that charge you so close as to bump into you then jumping up and down in a vain attempt to cause you harm. It is the one point that Bethesda should be taken to task over.

Are quests solvable in multiple ways?
For the quests, the developers affirm that they wanted to allow the player to complete them however they wish. The example of Megaton should be a relevant one: the bomb in the centre of town remains armed and undetonated years after the apocalyptic events that gave rise to the wasteland. The locals worship this as a religious artifact. The Sheriff asks you to disarm it permanently. If you have the necessary skill in explosives you have the opportunity to disarm it or disable it. If you spend a bit of time in town you might run across an unsavory character that asks for your help in his plan to detonate the bomb. You are free to help him, send him to hell or denounce him to the sheriff. Concerning progression in the world I was aware at all times of a certain repetitiveness. Peter Hines confided in us that near each turret in the game there could be found a terminal for hacking said turret. It is interesting to let the player choose how to find his way but systematically offering the same alternative solutions every time risks getting old.

Technical Aspect

With regards to implementation, first impressions are confirmed: It’s ugly. The textures are faded, un-detailed for sure, the game is really aliased and the colors are really, really poorly chosen. Badly chosen in terms of coherence and not just because “it fit in with the spirit of the original”. Take this with a grain of salt, this was the 360 unfinished build, but it does not bode well for Fallout 3 shining on its technical merit. A example to illustrate my point. I approached a broken window of a building: the texture was so pixelated as to make me wonder whether the texture was stolen from doom.
They are still open to questions, so feel free to submit good questions in our comments for our French staff to translate and submit. No guarantee for any answers, tho'.

Link: CanardPC Q&A - English translation.

News for Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 20:23

Lucky 13, and we're really starting to break our fingernails scratching out the bottom of the barrel, here. Totally360.

The active quest system from Oblivion makes its return which should please gamers who are familiar with that system. You will have a list of potential quests to complete and then you can choose which one to make “active”, at which point the map will help lead you where to need to go for that particular quest. The map is represented in the bottom left corner of your screen and will show you what direction your destination is in as well as the destination you are currently traveling. You can also use the Pip-Boy to help you on your quest as from time to time you might find a message from someone on there that you can listen to that will give you some back story on what is happening around you. Overall this game has a tremendous amount of promise and I really didn’t want to stop playing when my twenty five minutes was up. I wanted to keep playing and exploring which is the sign of a potentially great game. Bethesda also announced at E3 that the XBox360 version will feature exclusive downloadable content. Of all the games that I was actually able to play during E3 this title is definitely at the top of my list. Be sure to check it out when it hits store shelves this fall.
Sun Media.
I could hear Battle Hymn of the Republic playing from a tinny speaker somewhere up ahead, and in the distance a government-controlled eyebot floated into view. I wasn’t sure whether these round, hovering robots were hostile, but I took no chances: I drew my pistol and started blasting away at an antenna-like appendage labelled “combat inhibitor” on the eyebot.

My shots destroyed the inhibitor and the eyebot went nuts, opening fire on a hapless caravan guard who had wandered into view. The guard returned fire and destroyed the robot, saving me the trouble and potential danger of taking the thing on myself. Hey, works for me.
Tech & Gadgets Editors' Blog.
When an enemy appears, you can hit a shoulder button to freeze the action. You can then select the body part you want to shoot - with percentage points showing your chance of a successful hit. From here you can set up multiple shots - all on the same body part, or on different parts or even different enemies. It gives you a number of tactical decisions to make.

Do you gamble on the low chance of making a successful head shot, or will you go for the easier torso hit that leaves a greater chance of survival? Once you make your decision, you come out of the frozen mode and see your shots ping out in cinematic style (those head-shots are awesomely impressive). It all makes the combat modes in the game far more demanding far, beyond the usual random hammering of the shoot button.
And GameZombie offers a video interview with the standard ditsy female journalist.

Posted by Brother None - at 20:20

MTV Multiplayer Blog has a multi-part interview with Todd Howard. Part one talks of the Han Solo-effect.

Multiplayer: And these are cool things? Because, again, you’re calling it “neutral.” It already sounds like something not to be proud of. Yet I know it’s the one I’m going to wind up being…

Howard: Some of [things you get] are very cool. And some of them are avoiding a negative that comes with being evil. If you’re evil some people will come after you. If you’re neutral they won’t. If you’re good some people will come after you. If you’re neutral they won’t.

Multiplayer: Everybody loves Han Solo, right? They like him more than Luke Skywalker, who’s the goody two-shoes. And Han Solo is the guy who — he’s not the bad guy, but he will murder people in cold blood. He’s got that mixture.


Howard: I can’t say we’ve conquered that.
Part Two starts with the interviewer desperately trying to attribute a political message to the game for some mystifying reason before turning to actual gameplay talk.
“I think leveling up in this game can be funny and you always get kind of cool [abilities],” Howard told me, as we discussed the franchise’s Perks system. “My current favorite one — and this was one of my favorites in the old games — it’s called Mysterious Stranger. And what that perk is is basically a mysterious person comes and helps you every once in a while. In the early games he would just pop up behind a barrel and shoot somebody. He’s a guy in a trench coat and a fedora. The way we do it in this game is: you go into VATs, and you go to shoot somebody, and if you miss for some reason and you have the perk, the mysterious stranger may show up. This guy in a trench coat just goes — BAM! — and kills somebody. And you go: ‘Where did that guy come from?’ It’s really funny.”
(...)
They’ve got the mysterious stranger. They’ve got the dog. What else was on the “Fallout” essentials checklist? A vault. The new game had to start with a vault, Howard told me. In fact, unlike the first game, the new one will require players to play a bit of their character’s life in the vault before venturing out.

What wasn’t essential to keep from the earlier “Fallout” games was the camera view or the setting. The top-down camera of old was replaced with a 3D view that can be controlled from first or third-person. Howard said the camera can be positioned to allow for a top-down view but is hopeful longtime fans will accept the new view. “This kind of presentation excites us more,” he said of his team. “Hopefully a lot of gamers feel the same way. ‘Fallout’ is so cool that it deserves this kind of treatment.”

Posted by Brother None - at 10:52

A new update from FIFE-based indie RPG Zero Projekt.

After yet another silly season, the Zero-Projekt proudly presents some new informations about our work and the current status of the development.


loadingscreen

Our new framework...
Our technical division made some very good progress which not only bumped our motivation to the next level but also the project itself. The biggest step was the development of our new framework which allows us now to not have to rely on the FIFE demo client (which has a completely different mission, so this step was important).
With the new framework we can not only develop faster, but also more flexible as it already has the shape of a 'real' game client - and debugging is much easier.

In the meantime, the FIFE project released 2008.1 which allowed us to even improve the framework with the new features of FIFE - like the update to guichan 0.8.1 and the greatly improved version of the editor client.

Here are some of the highlights of our technical development:
* object interaction (PC - NPC; PC - objects like doors / lockers etc.)
* testcode for the new renderers FIFE provide (generic render, cell highlighting or floating text render - which are more flexible to e.g. realize a falloutish cursor highlighting by painting a red hex :) )
* maplogic module to give maps individual interactive objects (NPCs etc.)
* integration of the ruleset module in all necessary areas of the code
* first combat visualizations
* prototype for Drag'n Drop
* FSM-AI (Finite State Machines)


The framework loaded the worldmap, developer IDE in the background

For sure, it's still a lot of work to do - but we created the most solid basement we ever had. We also celebrated commit #500 in our SVN repository - which boosts our motivation even further.



Anniversary: commit # 500

Graphics & animations

In this sector, we mainly polish our current animations and develop new animationsets. Furthermore, we are migration our graphical content to a new render setup for blender, which will improve the lighting and shadows. Last but not least we work on the content we need for the planned demo ;-)


A special request of our story department... ;)


NPCs: blacksmith & villager


combat in Zero
One of the best examples of the capabilities of the new framework is the integration of the combat system. For now not all connections to the ruleset are done, but still - we can fight on the maps. :)


PC vs. NPC

New team members

Not only the main work has developed nicely - the structure of the team did also. We'd like to introduce our new python programmers Giselher and Helios2000, as well as Grayfox - who joined the story department and currently focus on the story for the demo.

additional media


Drag'n Drop


Some blood - and more important - the well known log messages are a must for Zero, too ;)


Exploring a new map


New textures for the EiRi

Posted by Brother None - at 10:36

Here's some chances to scratch out some more info from the meagre offerings of this E3. First, Canardplus (who you may remember from this preview) contacted us to extend the offer to try and clarify any questions we have based on what they've seen.

This morning, we had the opportunity to try the 360 version of Fallout 3. The cheats weren't enabled. So ask your vicious questions and we will try to offer some honest answers.
A different one, the Guardian's Greg Howson is interviewing Pete Hines this Friday. Got any (reasonable and non-abusive) questions to suggest, stick 'em in his comment box.
I'm speaking to Pete Hines from Bethesda, the developers of Fallout 3, on Friday. If you've got any questions - specifically Fallout 3 but happy to throw in a few Oblivion ones too - please stick them in the comments.

Posted by Per - at 4:11

Emil Pagliarulo posted on the BGSF in response to people wondering (and worrying) about the inclusion of level scaling in Fallout 3:

This has been mentioned several times in past threads and interviews, but for those who missed it:

-- Yes, there is a variation of level scaling used to control the difficulty of the main quest, so you can proceed through the game's main story at any time and have a good deal of it (not all) be balanced for to your level and abilities.

-- Other areas are "tethered" to certain levels

-- There are places in the Wasteland where, if you're not careful, you'll certainly get your ass handed to you. Best to leave and come back when you're better equipped/more skilled. Funny -- just a half hour ago, our effects artist, Grant Struthers, told me this awesome story about how he watched a Deathclaw just rip this (well armored) NPC to pieces...

-- That said, if you leave an area that's too difficult, and then return later, no you won't find that everything has increased in level, and it's now even tougher.

-- No, Raiders won't eventually be equipped with Power Armor.

The balance has been feeling really great, and the team is really confident that we've solved the level scaling issues we had in Oblivion. Yes, we identified those mistakes, and learned from them. *gasp!*
Like he says, nothing really new, but a handy summary for those who have been asking about this lately.

Update with another Emil post:
[That you can complete the game at level 1] is absolutely not true.

One important thing to remember about Fallout 3 is that the game uses an experience points based system of leveling; you don't level up based on skill usage. And, you get the majority of your XP from completing quests. So on the main quest path specifically, we are much better able to determine what level you'll be at -- especially your minimum level -- when you get to any specific quest.

So while we do some level scaling on the main quest, things are generally at the player's level anyway, because we know your minimum level along that path. And even where things are scaled to control difficulty, it's not like a Super Mutant is going to scale down to level 2 anyway. Most of the level scaling stuff we do is just to eliminate frustration at the lower levels.

So by the time you get to the end of the game, you're going to face challenges appropriate to the level you'd naturally be at.
Quickly spotted by Ausir and trustno1.

News for Monday, July 28, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 19:01

Josan12 has been tinkering with new Fallout 2 animations for a while now. They're currently nearing completion, and hopefully will be included in MIB88's MegaMod and killap's Restoration Project in their next updates. Here's a showcase of new animations: sniper rifle animation, wakizashi animation and power armor helmet animation.


Link: New Fallout 2 animations thread.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:55

VG247 has done it again, interviewed Pete Hines and is now offering it to us in infuriatingly annoying small tidbits. Good stuff. On Leipzig.

“Yup, we’ll have a big presence at Leipzig,” he said. “That presence will take different forms for press and public, just for the purposes of scope, but we’ll definitely be there. Should be fun.”

Leipzig’s Games Convention takes place in East Germany from August 20-24.
On the public demo and violence, and how it's caused a perception mismatch.
Speaking to VG247, Bethesda’s Peter Hines has said that people may have been surprised by the level of violence in the Fallout 3 E3 demo simply because little of the RPG has been shown so far.

“I would chalk up the ‘mismatch’ to the fact that we hadn’t shown a ton on the game to folks up to this point, and that was intentional,” he said.

“We prefer to hold cards close to the vest and continue to put out new info on the game right up until it’s out, rather than having tons of info out there 9 or 12 months before launch and not having anywhere else to go.
(...)
“I’m pretty sure we’ve been pretty clear all along that it’s a violent, harsh world,” Hines added. “I don’t know if people thought we were kidding about that or what. But the original games definitely had that aspect to them, and we felt it was important to preserve it. Now, the way it’s handled in Fallout 3 is a bit over-the-top intentionally so that it’s more comical than disturbing.

“And it isn’t all you do in the game, so it does require context in that it isn’t the only thing you can do in the game, as the folks who spent a half hour in dialog proved. We follow the lore and canon of the Fallout universe when it comes to what’s going on in the world, the violence, etc. So McCarthy’s The Road is brilliant, but it’s a very different take on a post-apoc world and so while there are ideas and themes in that work you will also find in Fallout 3, they’re coming at it from very different places.”
The next milestone.
“The next milestone for us is ‘get everything done,’” he said. “From a PR standpoint, we still have lots more things to see and show and talk about and we’ll be doling that info out over the coming months.”

News for Sunday, July 27, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 18:45

Dutch-language magazine PC Gameplay offers their impressions in issue #148, penned by Stefan Wenmaekers. The Dutch Ghost offers a translation of bits dealing with gameplay, noting the article is full of praise of Fallout 3.

On every press conference where multiple games will be presented, there is always one game that is handled in such secrecy that you get the impression that it involves the launch codes for nuclear missile launch facilities.

During the Ubidays 08 this honor fell clearly to Fallout 3, the post nuclear RPG from Bethesda (Oblivion) and long awaited sequel to the successful Fallout-series of the 90’s.

For Fallout there was no flashy stand, no large bill boards or invited booth babes but a small forgotten room in the Louvres where you could only enter with four people at once after you had undergone a thorough bodycheck en had surrender all cameras and other high tech recording equipment.
(...)
During each life phase you learn something new. From crawling in your box you learn movements, and during which you find the children’s book ‘S.P.E.C.I.A.L.’ which immediately sets basic skills (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck).
(...)
The real turn based game play of the originals is gone but through VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) you can stop the time to choose your actions.
This is where your perception and Agility choices come into play.

With a high Perception you will be better in discovering the weak points of your opponents and will increase the chances (expressed in percentages) to hit your target.
Each creature has six target zones with each zone reading your hit chance.

A shot in the leg can cripple him and a hit in the arm can disarm him or reduce the effectiveness of using his own weapon. A headshot can be fatal in one blow, cause blindness or can confuse the opponent for a long time.

How many actions you can undertake during such a VATS pauze is the number of Action Points which on their turn depend on your agility skill, the higher the skill the more Action Points.

These Action Points can be focussed on one opponent or spread over many, Action Points will regenerate after a while by resting or talking a walk.
(...)
Several bullies harass a girl, what will you do? The moral choices you make here will be the first example what await you during the rest of the game.
If you help the harassed girl you lean towards the path of ‘righteousness’, but you could also choose the side of the bullies in order to get in favor with them.

This black and white situation is a simple first test but later it will become more complex.
There will be many grey areas for you to choose from in which the consequences won’t be immediately clear.
(...)
As expected it will always come to a fight when you confront ‘creatures’ such as mutants, caverats, molerats, deathclaws or scorpions, but when facing ‘human’ opponents you don’t always have to solve everything with violence.
During conversations you can boast, threat, and deceive to get out of problems.
Your Charisma and Luck will determine the chance to talk yourself out of a threatening situation.
(...)
We saw a nice example of the AI when our hero had to cross a camp of enemy raiders.
Confronting these openly would be equal to suicide so that was not an option.

As long as it was daytime the camp would be well guarded, but as soon as the night fell most of the raiders were snoring loudly and our hero could sneak past the guards to continue his journey.

News for Saturday, July 26, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 15:15

Number 12. Chud (thanks DJFLAB).

I came out completely convinced that this is going to be one of the best games of the year, but Fallout purists, take note- This game is not what you're used to. I know a ton of the more hardcore fans hate that they've changed the turn-based combat and setting somewhat, but as a fan myself, trust me, it's got the feel of a Fallout game. It's got the humor down, and the setting- well, it's the best post-apocalyptic landscape you've seen in a game yet. On the flipside, Oblivion fans have no reason whatsoever not to rejoice. This is definitely a more refined version of that incredible game.
totalplaystation.
Since then, Bethesda has added a few significant improvements which up the “cool and useful” factor by about 100. We almost missed it, but when spending AP points, a bar at the bottom shows you how much a successful shot will damage the enemy you’re targeting. This can usually safely be ignored, unless however, if you land a headshot. As you line up your shot and pull the trigger, the bullet casing ejects and a cinematic camera takes control, dragging you along the flight path in slow motion – bingo. Your shot lands your target square in the face, causing it to rip off with a gruesome stream of blood. With well placed shots like this, who needs health bars? The V.A.T.S. system decreases in accuracy the further away you get, however, so don’t expect to be making those kind of shots all of the time.

Two notable creatures that we had the pleasure of vanquishing from the land were a wild dog (which came out of nowhere) and a crazed bee. Trust us, after a(n) (un)healthy dose of radiation, those things are terrifying. Sure, you’ve got your random humans scattered about (some of which attacked us first), but you’d do better to befriend as many of them as you can. Unless you’re a total jerk, that is.
My God. Bees.

Electronic Theatre.
E3 2008 held a playable demo of a title that, much like Fable II, is reportedly now complete, and the time between now and launch will involve tweaking and tidying-up. The demo opens with the player standing at the doors to the Vault. Opening the doors reveals a blinding flash of light, followed by a view of an incredibly detailed horizon. Prior to this, the title acts much like it’s effective-sister release, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The player will play select moments from their characters childhood in order to develop their unique attributes, before travelling out into the world as if leaving the dungeon for the first time in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. However, even now, FallOut 3 is exponentially better looking than The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:30

The IGN LiveWire demo presentation of Fallout 3 - which isn't bad at all - is now available for easy viewing, in case you missed it earlier. It's also available for download, including in HD (is 640x480 HD?).

Though he didn't reveal any of the details of the story, Todd Howard talked about the overall perspective of the game, how some of the factions fit into the world, and how to make use of the game's Pip Boy.

More than anything else, the demo allows you to get a really great look at the game's VATS and real-time combat systems, from incinerating raider gangs with laser rifles to blasting mobile sentry bots with a rocket launcher. Best of all, Todd really lets loose in a parking lot fight with the Enclave by making gratuitous use of his personal nuclear bomb launcher. That's definitely something you don't want to miss.
Thanks Ausir.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:19

While Bethesda is not unveiling any details about the Fallout 3 DLCs, did have indicated to videogaming247 that the GFW/Xbox306-exclusive DLCs will be "substantial", comparable to the DLC addition Knights of Nine was to Oblivion.

“I couldn’t even tell you right now what the DLC would be, but our plans are for substantial stuff,” [Pete Hines] said. “The equivalent of things like Knights of the Nine for Oblivion, where it provides many hours of gameplay, not just a one-off thing of an item (or items) or a hangout, or things like that.”

Todd Howard used the word “substantial” to describe the additional content at E3, where he also said it would be 360-exclusive. Hines told us, though, that the PC version would be getting the DLC as well.
No return of the horse armor fiasco, let us hope.

News for Friday, July 25, 2008

Posted by Per - at 21:54

The Bethblog reveals that the life-size Power Armor figure seen at E3 isn't one of a kind - there's an entire army waiting to be shipped to stores all over the world to promote the game.



Assuming they don't flip out and take over the world, maybe a few will find their way to the homes of the faithful once the initial sales campaign is over (or go on eBay for a million).

Thanks to Ausir.

Posted by Per - at 18:32

Kotaku presents a clip from an Australian panel discussion TV show on the subject of banning violent games. The segment begins with a person in the audience wearing a Fallout T-shirt asking why there isn't an R rating for games. Here's a transcript of what follows:

Presenter: A little bit of background for the uninitiated: one of those banned video games is called Fallout 3 if I'm correct, it's set in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. in which people come out after a long period of time and start killing everybody. And those people as I understand it have a little attachment to their arms where they can self-inject intravenous drugs to make them kill more people. Is that correct? Is that a fair summary?

Guy with Fallout T-shirt: That's correct, yes.

(everyone laughs)
And that's the shows's moderator; the experts go on to say other baffling things, although not much of it directly touches on Fallout 3.

In related news, a petition (probably multiple petitions, really) has been started to protest the banning of Fallout 3.

Spotted on the BGSF.

Posted by Per - at 17:39

It's those crazy critical Europeans again (in this case Eurogamer).

Visually, Fallout 3 is unremittingly bleak. So it should be, although you have to wonder if there will be enough variation in this vast wasteland to sustain interest. But let's give Bethesda's artists the benefit of the doubt on that count, because unfortunately the game has much more tangible shortcomings to take them to task on: the flat, sterile lighting, the excessive contrast, the feeble effects (excepting the mini-nuke explosions of wrecked cars' power units) and, worst by far, the hilariously, embarrassingly wooden animation.

This was a weakness of Oblivion's, too, but it's even more jarring in Fallout 3. The game presents itself in the first-person perspective, but you can pull the camera out to quite a distant third-person viewpoint and move it in full 3D. This means you can examine your character's Gerry Anderson jerking and flailing from any angle; we'd recommend you don't. Unfortunately, you can't help but observe the erratic path-finding, motionless trances and limp movements of the few enemies you encounter this early in the game. You simply can't invoke the visual style of an action game and get away with this stuff.

[..]

The game's showing in the Microsoft press conference was something of a bum note as well, with its gleeful ultra-violence and portable nukes failing to evoke the more down-to-earth flavour of grit Fallout is known for. We accept that was probably a hard sell for a broad audience, though. We accept that the game's setting, however dreary within the context of gaming in general, is refreshing within the world of RPGs. Above all, we accept that it's impossible to properly judge a game as vast as this in such a short time span, and that it undoubtedly has many hidden riches.

But beyond that, there are simple questions of quality that it's impossible to avoid: characterless art, cold visuals, wonky animation, weak real-time combat, off-kilter writing. As it stands, Fallout 3 just doesn't feel right, and it will leave many players shivering for warmth in its nuclear winter.
There are a few positive notes (such as approval of V.A.T.S.), but also more criticism of, well, just about everything. German GamersGlobal likes it mostly, but hates V.A.T.S.
We also learned to activate V.A.T.S., which is the acronym for "Vault Assisted Targeting System". This is meant to substitute the action point depleting targeting of the old Fallout RPGS -- but it could be the worst nightmare for real fans of the series! Let us explain further -- but keep in mind that this criticism could not (or only partly) apply to the finished game: Pete Hines told us that Bethesda is still tweaking all this stuff.

In the RPGs Fallout and Fallout 2 as in the tactic game Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, you had a certain amount of Action Points (AP) which you expended to move or fire a weapon. Spending more APs in a turn for aiming let you chose a body part to shoot at -- which always decreased the to-hit-chance but dealt special damage to the opponent, with successful head-shots dealing massive damage and stunning the enemy, sometimes killing him instantly (exploding head). But in the current version of the Action-RPG Fallout 3 is, V.A.T.S. rather feels like a cheat mode. There are three reasons for this: First, you can queue up several shots, with big body parts costing less APs than, let's say, the head. But we always could queue up at least two shots, and mostly three, thereby doubling or tripling our to-hit chance. Second, regardless of what body part you hit in V.A.T.S. mode, the opponent will die. We killed a Super Mutant by shooting his leg with a pistol. Third, the APs regenerate far too quickly, we never activated the V.A.T.S. mode in our half-hour of play without being able to use it. So instead of using this mode a couple of times each hour like you would a high-level spell in Oblivion, we were basically using it for every single fight, making things too easy for our liking (playing on "normal" mode). Apart from using basic shooter skills like dodging, taking cover and not running into a group of superior opponents, we couldn't find any tactics involved. As long as you don't consider picking the body part with the highest to-hit probability as tactics.

[..]

So from this experience, from our talking to Pete Hines and from everything else we've learned so far about Fallout 3, we'd say that if you look for a return to the world of Fallout, or if you'd like to play an Action-RPG not closely resembling, but still similar to Oblivion (with another setting, of course), Fallout 3 is one of the games to watch for you this Fall. We think the wit, the cynicism, the fun will be there, again. But Bethesda will have to tweak the V.A.T.S. system to make it less powerful, or its "reload time" longer -- otherwise, experienced gamers will feel like cheating most of the time.

If, on the other hand, you played Interplay's predecessor RPGs mainly because you liked the turn-based, tactical fighting, you'll definitely be disappointed. Because there's a lot of fighting, but much less tactics than in various tactical shooters...
What is it with this continent?

Posted by Brother None - at 3:17

A few different updates worthy of your attention. First, NMA has done some resorting in its modding files, including updating old files but also including stickying all the "recommended mods and patches", so that people looking for their first mod will know where to begin. The list of stickies files essentially looks like this:

Fallout 1
Fallout 1 Children Patch
Fallout Patch 1.3.3 ENG TeamX
Fallout1 Resolution Patch v1.0
Fallout NPC Mod v3.3 English version
Fallout Update Mod v1.2.5 english version
Timeslip Fallout engine tweaks for Windows 2000/XP/Vista

Fallout 2
Fallout 2 Childrens Patch
Fallout2 Resolution Patch v1.3
Killap's Unofficial Fallout 2 Patch (US/UK - installer)
Fallout 2 Restoration Project Installer Version
MIB88 MegaMod 2.34
Timeslip Fallout 2 engine tweaks for Windows 2000/XP/Vista
Note that this isn't a recommendation for a list of files to install all together: MIB88's MegaMod conflicts with the Restoration Project, and both already include such things as the unofficial patch and resolution patch.

Speaking of which, Mash has updated his Resolution Patch to 1.3, while MIB88 updated the MegaMod to 2.34.

In new modding territory, Skynet brings us a mod (somewhat of a WIP) - that works only if you already installed the Restoration Project mod of killap - that adds Fallout 1's Harry as a recruitable NPC: Harry as NPC Mod 1.0.

In more WIP pieces, Jesterka brings us this loading screen from Fallout: Between Good and Evil:


And also dug out this beaut from Mutants Rising:

News for Thursday, July 24, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 23:41

Number 11, a lot of this just peeked off of BethBlog. The Hachiko.

Before my chance to see Fallout 3 at this year's E3, I wouldn't have believed the concept of time travel was possible. Much to my surprise, however, Bethesda managed to create a time travel machine with their latest offering – Fallout 3. Fallout 3 not only transports fans back to the olden days of the franchise's heyday, but you'll also find yourself exploring the world, wanting to try one more thing out, and the next thing you know thirty minutes have gone by in what only seems like ten. I literally lost all sense of time when playing the game. Read on and learn why Fallout 3 was the best game of E3.
Electric Playground.
Speaking of chatting, Oblivion's conversation system is out, and a much more Fallout-like system is in. You are given a choice of topics and answers when speaking to NPCs, and your skills come into play. For example, when negotiating a reward for a sidequest, I tried to charm an NPC into upping it slightly (okay, more than slightly). Since I wasn't very charismatic (the SPECIAL system is back), he didn't budge. I also tried a little lockpicking and used my science skills to tamper with a bomb. I can't talk about the results of that without getting into spoilers, but I will say this about the story: Fallout's grittiness punctured with bits of gallows humour is back.

Quests are given out in the usual fashion: chat with somebody, and a notice appears. Thankfully, though the notice appears on the screen, it doesn't pause the gameplay. You can also receive quests by NPCs who approach you, and not just in the cities. I was out in the wasteland when a young boy came up to me and begged me to help him out. As always, what you take is up to you. I was given dialogue choices that would have allowed me to rudely and cruelly refuse, but since I play games like I am a cross between a Jedi Knight and Batman, I agreed to help out. Soon I found myself tangling with a new kind of monster in a quest called "Them!" which is an homage, if you know your classic scifi.
NxGamers (plus a second opinion).
I am walking faster now. As I move in-between the houses, I start to notice more and more bullet holes. It would seem that I am heading in the wrong direction. My suspicions are correct as I see a group of bandits walking in towards me. Up ahead, I also notice an abandoned school. Maybe I could take shelter in there while I think things over. Hopefully, the bandits havent noticed me yet. I quickly ran into the school, slamming the doors shut behind me. Its takes a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Immediately, my stomach dropped to my toes. There were bodies hanging from the ceiling, riddle with bullet holes. Apparently, the bandits I saw walking in my direction werent bandits at all. They were Raiders. Only Raiders would take this much pleaser in butchering their fellow humans. Seconds after I realized that I was screwed, there was a knocked at the door.
Fallout 3 is shaping up to be one hell of a game. After only five minutes of gameplay, I feel in love with Bethesdas beast. Everything in the environment was heavily detailed. Even mundane objects like a mailbox had a since of character. Rusted to the spot, its as if it wasnt just a relic of a lost civilization. It was another interesting face in Fallouts world.
GamersInfo.
Walking through the city, having talked to its sheriff after being waved in by the robotic guard, I kept my radio tuned to some music until I found a small shop. There the lady gave me a job - going to retrieve some landmines and bring them back to her. Not having much of another job, I decided to take it.

I left the town and one of the devs said I could find a closer quest. I went back and talked to her, but alas, could not get another one, so I wandered out. I walked through what appeared to be a bombed out suburb and saw some wrecked cars.
GotGameTV has video coverage and an interview. The Escapist also offers a video interview with Todd Howard (starts at 1:30).

And, of course, there's the E3 awards: X-Play (Best Multiplatform) - UGO (Best RPG, Best Console Game, Best in Show) - Blast (Best Game) - Edge (one of 20 Best Games) - WhatIfGaming (Best RPG) - GameSpy (Best Xbox360, Best PS3) - GamePro (Silver Award) - PlanetXbox360 (Best of Show) - GameDaily (Best Xbox360) - GameZone (#2 Best Game) - Scrawlfx (Best of Show)

Posted by Brother None - at 19:16

Desslock send this over for a few blast from the past kicks: the Fallout Reviewer's Guide, the document sent along with the Fallout review copy. It explains that the review copy is pretty bugged compared to the final release (according to Desslock, it really was a mess), contains product features and description and - perhaps most fun to read - Tim Cain's hints & tips on starting a new game.

Link: Fallout Reviewer's Guide.

Posted by Brother None - at 0:06

The official BethSoft site brings you Penny Arcade Comics.

Today we posted the first Penny Arcade Fallout comic that begins an original series/story that Tycho and Gabe did for us. When we first approached the guys about doing this, years ago at this point, we really wanted to do something where they just kind of ran with it. Let them come up with their own ideas, whether it was a bunch of standalone strips, or one that worked all together, or whatever. We really didn’t care whether it had anything to do with Fallout 3, or its locations or characters, we just wanted to see what would happen when Penny Arcade did Fallout.

So we went back and forth with them providing what info and assets we could, and Tycho and Emil would trade emails about different ideas of things they had come up with. They picked at some different ideas, but it wasn’t until I had a chance to go show them the game many months ago that it really clicked for them, I think. And they came up with this idea of telling their only story of one of the other Vaults. And it was one of those great things where we started getting strips over in bunches and it went from start to finish in a hurry.

We’ll be releasing a new strip every Wednesday for the next couple of months. We hope you enjoy them!
Thanks kyle.

News for Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 23:05

This might have gone in one of the round-ups, but since GamingTrend gave us one of the best previews last E3, their hands-on impressions of Fallout 3 are fit for a separate post.

Reflections in the Wasteland
That evening I was talking with the team about what I had played and poring over my hurried notes. There were a few things that concerned me, and a great many things that knocked my socks off. Here are some of my notes in legible format and in no particular order:

* The animation system in Fallout 3 is obviously improved over Oblivion, but occasionally it seemed stilted and somewhat unnatural. Is there enough time to polish this rough edge?
* Brown is the new black. With the landscape being a desolate wasteland, how much brown, rusted brown, copper-tinted brown, and dusty brown can one person take? With only 30 minutes of gameplay, many areas already felt similar.
* A great deal of work has been put into the Gamebryo engine - the game looks beautiful and incredibly detailed, even beyond that of Oblivion. The weapons look authentic and antiqued, often held together by bandages, tape, or just beaten down like the landscape. Tires, trash, and various other debris dot the landscape. A light wind stirred the hot dust, giving a bit of life to the scene.
* You could spend a lifetime just scavenging in this game. I found items in cupboards, trash cans, on dead bodies, lying on the floor, in mailboxes, and everywhere in between.
* The control mechanics map perfectly to a controller. I didn't feel constrained in any way by the 360 interface.
* The drive to see more is very much present. Time flew by and all I wanted to do was skip the rest of E3 and play the rest of this game. The world is compelling, and I want to see how well the Fallout world is conveyed by this new team.

Conclusions?
It's really hard to make any level of buying decision based on a 30 minute gameplay run, much less draw any 'conclusions', but I do applaud Bethesda for giving us free reign to simply run around and do whatever we wanted, rather than forcing us in to a pre-made demo. Is Fallout 3 a FPS? Is it an RPG? Yes, to both, but figuring out what ratio goes with that statement is hard at this point. Bethesda has done an incredible amount of work on this title, and I think that most Fallout fans will be very pleased for several reasons. First, a healthy company now owns the IP which all but ensures its continued life. Second, the team has clearly worked their ass off trying to capture the feel of the original Fallout titles to translate into this 3D free-roaming world. Based on the 110 hours it took me to complete Oblivion, we've seen far less than 1% of the game. Judging now would be premature at best, but I have to admit that I like what I see so far. We'll all get to judge for ourselves when the game ships on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC this Fall.
Link: Fallout 3 - E3 Hands-On on GamingTrend.

Thanks Anani Masu.

Posted by Brother None - at 19:35

Number 10. Gamervision.

While it allows you to aim and fire at different body parts just like any other first or third person shooter on the market, Fallout 3 has a modified version of its predecessor’s combat system by implementing VAT, freezing time and allowing for precise aiming at different parts of the body (while identifying the % to hit of each). Using this, I was able to take several shots at any part of the enemy I choose and watch them delivered in a short cinematic. Several attacks can be taken at once depending on how many action points I had stored up, and using all of them I was able to blow off the leg of one of the attacking dogs, crippling him. Along my way to the city I took out several dogs and rats in this fashion, familiarizing myself with the new, but interesting take on combat. It feels like you would suspect it would, a hybrid of Fallout’s turn based combat and Oblivion’s real-time combat.

As I approached the town I saw a group of vagabonds standing near a caged animal. Being the humanitarian I am, I began firing at the enemies from afar. They rushed me, and I was able to experiment with the VAT on a human target. Not only was I able to shoot several shots at any part of the body (including the weapon), but I was able to switch between targets mid-attack using the same system. When the remaining enemies were within melee range I took out a baseball bat (followed by equipping a baseball hat) and attacked.
Dose.ca.
- The franchise's trademark dark humour is still front and center. Poking fun at the absurdity of "life" after a nuclear holocaust as envisioned from a Cold War naivety and humanity's ability to compartmentalize and pretend that everything is "hunky dory", as well as pointing out the tenuous hold on civilization and decency we have at the best of times, the game makes you unsure whether to laugh or cry sometimes-and all by just putting you in the middle of this richly imagined, bleak world.

Bad Stuff

- We couldn't find much to gripe about, especially with so little time playing the game, but one thing that stuck out was the slightly clunky-looking movement of enemies. We squared off against a bunch of "Raiders" and a couple of "Slavers" and all of them loped around rather unrealistically. Maybe it's all the radiation floating around, but they all seemed too fast for humans and bounced about as though they weighed less than a Post-It. If I'm going to be blasting away at these for 100+ hours, I don't want that bugging me the whole time.

Should You Count the Days? Oh my God, yes! Sprawling, action packed, moody, humourous and face-explodingly violent, Fallout 3 will easily vie for Game of the Year honours in 2008. Thankfully it's set for an October 7 release, meaning the several months you'll be indoors playing it and eschewing contact with friends, family and your job, will be all the ones with bad weather.
Gamer 2.0 is probably the most uninformed preview I've ever seen.
All of this, excluding V.A.T.S., should be familiar to those who have played previous installments of the franchise. The biggest change comes in the way you actually play the game, the aforementioned first-person perspective introduced by developer Bethesda Softworks. This change actually works well because of the implementation of the V.A.T.S. system, allowing players used to the older style of combat make an easy transition, shooting in real time in some situations and switching to the V.A.T.S. system when they feel necessary. The V.A.T.S. system, as aforementioned, pauses the game and allows you to take a more strategic approach, using action points for each move. If your action points drain to nill, you can still pop up the V.A.T.S. system to get a view of the number of enemies in the area so you can plan how to attack them when you switch back to real time combat.

The Pitboy is back with a new model, the Pitboy 3000, which essentially serves as your main menu, accessing your stats, quests, map, and more. The map will not only show you the game world, an expansive one just a bit smaller than Cyrodill from Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but also all previously discovered areas that can be instantly traveled back to. It can also show any shortcuts to your destination provided by the D.C. metro system.
Totally Rad Show episode 70 contains discussion of Fallout 3 and an interview with Pete Hines (thanks Travesty), starting at 17:15 and ending at 18:15.

Finally, Arbogast on film claims the director of Fallout 3's Perfect Life trailer is Jon Nowak, a young director whose independent film Suspension has had some success in various film festivals. No way to know if the claim is correct, but if it is: congratulations to Jon Novak for the splendid work.

Posted by MrBumble - at 14:25

French gamesite Gamepro.fr played Fallout 3 at the E3 and gives us its impressions here.

The aspect of Fallout 3 we have experimented more was combat. And at first sight, it looks like it is not the most mastered aspect of Fallout 3, or at least not the most enjoyable aspect to discover through the stress of the event. After we came across a few wild dogs, a giant spider and a few ghouls, it was about time to make the bullets speak. Playable in first or third person, the sensations offered by Fallout 3 when it comes to shooting at sight are more or less the same. Which is to say that independently of the approach we chose, the first combats were pretty similar to what one could find in any average action game, that is to say completely dull and poor in terms of sensations. After a few shoots, the ( V.A.T.S ndlr. ) bar is full and you can start the "bullet time" mode, if one may say so, and so doing be able to aim more precisely any part of your opponents' body, evaluating the probability to succeed for this or that part. Follows a slow motion animation which shows in details the effect of your shooting through a not so good camera move which soon becomes tedious even though you can cut it. Combats so, which, we admit, we could only try in surface, disappointed us by their classicism and their slowliness.

[...]

Our Vault Dweller does not run, he walks as stiff as a piece of wood. A rigid animation which caracterizes a game which, technically, appeared as rather deceiving. The level of details of the textures clearly reminded us of Oblivion, a trip into the past since much better looking things have been released since. Impossible also not to think of the deception the Fallout fans will feel when they get out of the Vault. They, who will discover a game the general appearance of which has nothing in common with the first two episodes and who will have to adhere to this new vision of the nuclear apocalypse which has more to do with a hesitating cybernetism à la Mad Max. They also who won't be able to ignore so much aliasing and these low res textures. However, even though Fallout 3 looks rather ugly, you only have to get away from the screen a little bit to seize this impression of greatness and this isolated look on the desolated world which surrounds you. Deception then is partially replaced by a sense of ambition. And what if Fallout 3 under its maybe deceiving appearance really offered the great, totally free, incredibly immersive and open adventure it has always promised ?

[...]

Indeed, we know that a title such as Fallout 3 cannot be really judged on such precise aspects of its gameplay. We could only have a glimpse of the dialog and quest systems ( on the path of our father and a few secondary quests ) and briefly experiment with the character creation system through our Pipboy...

[...]

The attitude of Pete Hine towards our questions betrayed a disproportionate confidence in Fallout 3 which in the end gave us hope. What if, everything reminds us of Oblivion ? Would it also mean that Fallout 3 will inherit of its princial flaws ? One of these flaws which we were promised will be corrected until its release is the awaiting appearance of the world and of the PNJ which both seem to be waiting for the main players's actions. It cruelly lacks of life, even in this wasteland. What about the rest ? Impossible to know. One thing is for sure : Bethesda still has work to do.

Posted by Per - at 1:14

Fallout becomes available on the GameTap downloading service this week, as told by Joystiq:

The feel-good post-nuclear-apocalypse game about finding a Water Chip, Fallout, joins GameTap this Thursday. There are still no details about when Fallout 2 will make an appearance on the service, but when GameTap originally announced Fallout was coming, the company did say it would be adding the "series." For those with some patience, the original Fallout should be available on GameTap's free service at some point in the future.
Link: Fallout @ GameTap

News for Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Posted by Per - at 18:27

Starting a small trend of following up on pre-E3 news, here's an item from Australian Gamer on the Fallout 3 classification issues in Australia, proceeding from what was previously dug up by The Escapist.

And [that material that has been classified RC cannot be imported into Australia] was also confirmed by the Senior Customs Officer I spoke to, who told me "if they are refused classification they are deemed to be prohibited imports". When I pressed him as to what the repercussions of this would be if you went ahead and tried to import it anyway, he told me "Generally, Customs will seize the goods."

So that's good news at least, to anyone afraid they might have had to do hard time.

[..]

Mind you, according to the website Refused-Classification.com, the last time they had heard of a game that had been refused classification in Australia being seized by customs, was when 6 copies of Grand Theft Auto III (back when it was banned) were confiscated in November 2001

Personally, I hardly think video games are high on the customs hit list of items to keep out of Australia, but the fact remains that it's currently not legal to import games that have a Refused Classification status.
There's a possible loophole, though: the import rules on "objectionable goods" are not consistent with the game classification system. It remains to be confirmed that this affects anything.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:00

Edge offers some thoughts on the Fallout 3 DLC exclusivity, thinking that perhaps money was involved (seriously, guys, ya think?).

"...I think it's a very good possibility that Microsoft and Bethesda were partners in this decision. Obviously Microsoft paid up to secure exclusive online content for GTA IV, and online is a cornerstone for Microsoft's digital media strategy."

But Bethesda won't share details of its decision to bring Fallout 3 DLC only to Microsoft platforms.

"...We aren’t going to get into the details of the hows and whys," said Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines in an e-mail. "[DLC] will be exclusive for PC and 360. [We're] not going to give any other qualifiers or clarifications as it relates to other platforms."
Link: Bethesda Mum on Fallout 3 DLC Exclusivity Deal on Edge.

Spotted on F3: APNB.

Posted by Brother None - at 3:46

Hurray! GameShark.

While we'd like to see the accuracy of real-time fire increased a bit, it's clear that the reduced precision comes as a way of balancing use of V.A.T.S. Still, combat is full of visceral thrills. One particularly cool scene during our time with the game took place when blasting a raider at point blank range, first with a pistol and then with a baseball bat. The action slows down and shows you're kill shot in all of its bloody glory. This is without a doubt an eye popping game and is certainly M rated. The combat looks wonderfully brutal.
GayGamer.
We managed to play the first bit of the game after the character exits the vault - I ran around Megaton interacting with characters and picking up quests as fast as I could, since we were on the clock, and took out many mutants, ghouls and humans on our brief sojourn.

Also like Oblivion, a huge percentage of the world is optional, so the work put into creating a sprawling, ruined world filled with death and decay should pay off most to players interested in exploring a post apocalyptic landscape. Just in my few moments with the game I realized that there was more than I could possibly absorb in one sitting, so like many of you I'm still desperately awaiting Fallout 3's release later this year.
Gaming Shogun.
My expo-mate, Pfgonzo took the console reigns as I scanned everyone else playing to gather as much info as possible. Aside from the seemingly open world and having people all experiencing different things at their own speed, the thing that struck me most was the combat system.

I was one of the purists who believed that a Fallout FPS would not be nearly as effective as the isometric games we are used to. Well, I am man enough to admit when I am wrong and I tell you now: I was wrong. During that half hour, not only did the first or third-person perspective increase immersion into the Fallout universe, it also gave the new combat system a much more approachable interface.
Tom's Games.
Since time was running short we started flipping through the pages of the PIP-Boy 3000, which contains your inventory, map, quest journal, status, skills, perks, all the things associated with Fallout role-playing. Just as we had hoped these screens look and sound like classic Fallout made new, and that's the most important thing I took away from the demo. It isn't a top-down perspective and it isn't 2D sprites but it still looks and feels like Fallout.
For an encore, ScrewAttack's video coverage is really worth watching for the unintended hilarity.

Posted by Brother None - at 3:28

Looks like this newsbit is now fully redundant, as Games Radar follows up on providing the PC Gamer hands-on preview by providing the post-play interview with Todd & Emil.

PCG: Do you have a rule for a bare-minimum number of ways to solve a quest?
Todd: No, we just do whatever comes naturally. We made a list initially showing the paths, so that we weren’t doing an overabundance of stealth paths versus other skills so that there was a good matrix, but if something fit in one we did it, and if it didn’t fit…
Emil: But as the game grew, just like we ended up making the game bigger, putting more stuff in, I think the quests themselves started to expand. We realized during playthroughs, you know what, there’s no talking path through this quest, or there’s no stealth path, so we went back and added that in. There are fewer quests and fewer NPCs, but probably just as much dialogue as Oblivion, just in all the variations.
Todd: It’s like when you were doing the bomb quest, and you were asking “Can I do this this way?” And so through testing we asked the same things, like “What if I kill Lucas Sims?” And ok, you have to go to the son. That kind of stuff.
Emil: We wanted to cover as many of those bases as we could.

PCG: So you tried to make it so that even if you take a few people out of the equation, the quest is still solvable?
Todd: As much as possible. It’s not always the case. You might kill someone and it will tell you “You can’t finish this quest anymore, this person has died.” Pretty much 99.9 percent of people in the game can be killed.
Emil: Yeah, even the quest-givers. They give you a quest, you blow their head off, that’s your decision. It’s simply more fun for the player where you might close off branches of the quest, but other branches are still open.
Todd: And the other answer to that question is that we don’t want players to have the expectation that they’ll be able to do every quest any style. Pretty much, Super-Duper Mart, there’s no way to talk your way through that. We get the question a lot, “Is there a non-violent path through the whole game?” No. I mean, you might be able to, I guess, but it’s not a goal.
Emil: I guess technically, because there’s a Stealth Boy, and because there’s a Protectron [security robot] in the back room of that Super-Duper Mart, if you could sneak in there and hack that computer, you could activate that Protectron, he’ll go and he’ll kick the s*** out of all of those raiders.
Todd: There are probably too many for him to kill every single one of them.
Emil: But enough to whittle them down so that science-boy could definitely get through there.
(...)
PCG: But [the Vault Suit]’s a little baggier
Todd: Yeah, we decided not to go with the spandex superhero suit, we wanted something that was more of a utility suit that people would wear for 100 years underground.
(...)
PCG: At which point why stop someone from continuing with their character?
Todd: See, now we should change it.
Emil: I can answer that. Going into this game, we really didn’t want people to have the Oblivion experience where they can be all things to all people. You choose a path. We are much more comfortable with the player replaying the game as a different character than playing it infinitely to whatever level and switching from good to evil and good again, and doing this and doing that. We were more comfortable saying the player has to play the game again to get this kind of stuff.
Todd: It makes the decisions harder. Because if I tell you “You can go as many levels as you want,” instead of “You can only pick 19 perks,” just that moment when you go from level four to five, a more important decision. I guess I hope that it makes that more fun, as opposed to “I’ll take this one, and I’ll get that one next time.”
Some good questions in there and promising answers. Recommended reading.

Link: Fallout 3: post-play interview on Games Radar.

Thanks Anani Masu.

News for Monday, July 21, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 21:49

PC Zone's resident Fallout fan Will Porter had a chance to do a hands-on of Fallout 3 before E3. Like PC Gamer's Dan Stapleton he got a full 5 hours, and wrote a long, detailed preview with it. We put up some tidbits before, and as per usual the full preview is now available via CVG.

Last seen at the close of Fallout 2 when their oil rig HQ blew up consigning them to the watery depths, 36 years on the Enclave's political powergrubbers are very much part of the firmament.

With the Washington landscape to play with, Bethesda clearly couldn't resist having the faux-American government return - now led by President John Henry Eden, ably voiced by Malcolm McDowell.

Eden's voice resonates through the wasteland much as Wallace Breen's did through City 17, whether on a looped Enclave radio station or through propaganda-delivering eye-bots that roam the barren landscape.
(...)
While we're on levelling, it's important to underline that Fallout does address one of Oblivion's biggest foibles: the fact that as you levelled up, the entire world levelled up with you.

In the wasteland, as in the original Fallout games, the further you stray the more dangerous things get - as I discovered during my lonesome trudge into the glorious north-east and was increasingly battered by the mole rats, bloatflies and Raider bases I came across.

However, enemies that lie along the plotline will be levelled to match you so that the difficulty curve is kept to Bethesda's heel.
(...)
Those expecting a succession of run-of-the-mill 'go here, fight these men or monsters, kill this particular man or monster, bring something back' Oblivion-type missions may well be in for a pleasant surprise too.

Fallout 3's missions - perhaps with thought being given to the originals' over-arching quests like "find the water chip" - are more long-running and convoluted than in Bethesda's previous works.

One character in Megaton (the first hub town you're directed to, whose interior is like some multi-layered, nightmare vision of the Swiss Family Robinson's treehouse) wants you to find her family, and points you in the general direction of far distant Arefu.

Once there, before you know it, that same quest has morphed into a tale of a local populace beset by a group of Brahmin-killers called The Family, and the missing characters are revealed to be in any one of three locations, so you're off on a chain of subquests that could take hours to complete.

To add subtlety and texture, meanwhile, smaller quests aren't flagged up in your Pip-Boy. Leo Stahl, son of a local family who own one of the two Megaton bars has a drug problem and hangs around the water treatment plant at night snorting Jet - as you discover either through sharing an affinity with medicine with the local doctor, or by hacking into the Stahls' computer at night and reading their personal logs, while simultaneously opening up their safe and stealing all their worldly goods.
That's about as much as I can politely quote, be sure to read the rest. Oh, and as an extra, here's the name-dropping on NMA that was mentioned before.
Can I vouch for it being better, worse or "Argh! So much worse!" than the old games? No, as I haven't met enough people or delved deep enough into their characters (sorry, nma-fallout.com) but I can scientifically state that both acting and dialogue are at least a bazillion times better than Oblivion's. They can put that one on the posters.
Thanks Bodybag.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:29

Vault Maker has been tinkering with his Fallout google maps to figure out the different locations in Fallout 3. Here is the result, showing all the locations we know of and marking locations spotted on the PipBoy map but as yet unnamed. The first image is of the whole US with locations from all 5 Fallout games overlaid.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:02

Another day, another round. Fallout 3:APNB links to a SarcasticGamer video on their hands-on experience. Next, PS3 Fanboy.

Fallout 3 is Oblivion set in the post-apocalyptic future. If you don't mind that fact, then you'll probably love this game. From the minute you set eyes on the title, the similarities are obvious. This is still clearly Fallout, though. The world feels lovingly recreated from the original games, but expanded with some Bethesda flair.
Ripten.
With time for the demo running short, I equipped my portable radio. This lets you pick up transmissions, which can only be heard if you’re within range. The one I settled on was a radio address from the President of the United States, who was explaining the necessity of keeping the details of his election a secret for matters of national security. “Rest assured,” he said, “I was fairly elected by the right people.”

He went on to explain that at the time when his term expires, he will leave America’s democracy in the hands of the people with a worthy successor. This sort of makes you wonder—can my Fallout 3 character pursue the highest political aspirations? Can you become the President of the United States?
Joystiq offers an audio interview and tidbits, still holding off their preview.
# Find out why some of the elements are very reminiscent of BioShock, which Todd Howard calls "Easily one of the best games of the last five years." The short answer is that "a lot of today's gamers weren't alive when Fallout first came out and contained in-game vending machines.
# How quickly did Bethesda decide to use the Oblivion engine? "Instantly." To Bethesda, this is a great tool for building really huge games both now and in the future.
# Did they think about calling it something besides Fallout 3? Like, Fallout: Origins? They did, but Howard is "not a fan of that... I like Halo 1, Halo 2, Halo 3. It didn't hurt Grand Theft Auto 3, did it?"
Kotaku is running a "justify your game" (really is a "why should I buy your game?" kind of thing) feature. Todd manages in 10 seconds. Additionally, Kotaku also offers their hands-on.
While we all started at the point in the story where we were exiting the Vault we grew up in for the first time, within 15 minutes each of the groups at the six kiosks they had put up in their booth were in completely different places doing completely different things. Some had made a beeline for a nearby settlement, some had found a ruined school building nearby and were involved in combat with some seedy B&D enthusiasts, while others spent a good 10 minutes trying to see if the ruined playground equipment was working from a physics point of view (it wasn't, and yeah...that was me).
OMG RPG (thanks Anani Masu):
A massive standee of the game's supreme power armor (identical to Fallout 2's, according to Expert Testimony) adorned the PR booth.
(...)
The writing is sharp, the dialog trees are extensive, and the clothing frequently hilarious. Just speaking as a general fan of RPGs, there's nothing to dislike here-- the writing is always intelligent, witty, or just plain silly and amusing. The very realistic 3D, almost shooter-style graphics at times only serve to enhance the humor.
(...)
Bethesda seems to have pulled off the impossible here, making a game that is interesting and exciting on its own (for a player like me), but also full of fun in-jokes and homages for Fallout vets (like Kou). Making a game, especially an RPG, that pleases even one small group of players can be pretty hard. Pleasing two very broad groups of players should be nearly impossible, yet here I am writing this.

Posted by Silencer - at 17:33

Our good friend Piotr "Struś" Koczewski has wrapped up his debut album Wasteland Theme quite nicely, and it is now available for preview and eventual purchase via SoundClick. Go ahead and covet the Fallout-inspired theme of this album.

Hell, you can even drink nuka-cola from it :)




Link: Wasteland Theme album @ SoundClick

News for Sunday, July 20, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 19:02

Game journalist Tom Chick responded to the Fallout 3 preview on Game|Life (Wired) by basically calling it a smear piece.

Man, that's really disappointing to read that stuff on Wired. I had my thirty minutes with the game today and it was over like *that*. I barely had time to meet a few characters, dig the combat against a couple of molerats and dogs, and do a little perking up, all the while tuned into a crackly broadcast playing some Billie Holiday. Based on these preliminary bits of awesomeness, I couldn't even begin to comment on the quality of the writing. Because pretty much all I've seen are a few dialog choices.

It's a mystery to me how Earnest Cav. can make pronouncements like he's made based on the thirty minutes of time we get at E3. That's a pretty sad smear job.

As for likable characters, heck, I really liked two of the people I met. The black guy in the cowboy hat who you saw in one of the early screenshots is the sheriff of Megaton, a town built around a crater with an unexploded nuclear bomb -- Fat Man style -- at the bottom. He was your standard-issue small frontier town sheriff, but plenty likeable, even when you're trying to sass him. I also liked Gob, the irradiated ghoul bartender, who's obviously supposed to be a sympathetic character.

Anyway, nice work, Wired. Sad I guess they're hiring from NMA, or RPG Codex, or wherever these goofballs spawn from.
That's right guys, everyone not positive about Fallout 3 must be from NMA or RPG Codex.

And they say we're the crazy ones?

Spotted on RPGWatch.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:46

There's probably a few more on the horizon, but at least the beach fronts are taken. Voodoo Extreme.

The demo started with us leaving the Vault; we just had to press a little button and off we went. As you might imagine, being an underground dweller for most of our life, the glare at first was overwhelming. After we rubbed the bloom from our eyes, we ventured forth into the wasteland to see what sort of trouble we could get into. We only had 30-minutes, so there was a limit to what havoc we could create, but I managed to explore the surrounding area a bit, enter a town, talks to a bunch of NPCs, collect a few new weapons and other items of interest, get a couple quests and of course, kill a bunch of radioactive critters.
Collider.
When outnumbered or outgunned, all you have to do is press the V.A.T.S. button, and BAM – you’re character is swallowed up by RPG turn-based convention. It’s actually really cool. Time stops, your enemies around you freeze, and you are free to specifically target all of your enemies’ weak spots until your Action Points run out. It’s pretty intuitive and fantastic, when it comes down to it. You’ve a certain number of Action Points at any given time, and you can choose which areas of your enemies’ bodies to concentrate on, giving you the advantage in battle. Pretty rad. Right as the time was up on the demo period, V.A.T.S. helped me score a strategic shot that took a wild dog’s head clean off. At this moment, I felt that E3 had given me everything I really needed to see!

The rest of Fallout’s RPG elements exist inside of your Pip-Boy, as there are plenty of stats, weapons, and armor to consider, as well as Skill Points to distribute when you level-up.
Crispy Gamer.
Talk is cheap. There are tons of quests to undertake and characters with which to interact. I only bumped into one talkative survivor in my journeys -- a reformed prostitute hiding in one of the few standing houses. The rest of the humans shot first and asked questions later. You can do the same if you don't mind earning a bad reputation.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun (thanks Jabu).
That it feels like Oblivion is a pretty important thing to note, I think. Because as a result (and I have to note that I played this with an Xbox 360 pad, not a mouse and keyboard) I didn’t like the real time fighting any more than I did in Oblivion. In fact less, because there was a great and immediate satisfaction to using Oblivion’s bows that the guns of Fallout (or at least, the ones from the early game) don’t have.

But that’s where the V.A.T.S system comes in. It is incredible. I refuse to believe anyone is going to play the game using real time combat when V.A.T.S is available. You see, V.A.T.S. turns every battle into an amazing cinematic event, and not in a lame way like a Final Fantasy game or something. The minute you spot an enemy, you choose your position to attack from, enter V.A.T.S mode, select the body part et cetera (classic Fallout stuff, you know the drill) and watch what happens. The cinematics are generated on the fly and delightfully satisfying. While shooting an enemy stalker (damn, er, just enemy) who is miles away with a pistol is a boring exercise in shooting at a dot, in V.A.T.S you’re able to watch as your bullets batter him with a pounding velocity, crippling his body parts or exploding his head [“or her head, obviously.” – Equal Opportunities Ed.]
And Games Radar offers an editorial called E3 08: Resident Evil 5 VS Fallout 3 VS Left 4 Dead .
Does it justify the hype it's been getting? This demo doesn't really answer that. Fallout 3 has been trading on two things – the heritage of the series it is part of and the fact that Oblivion was in many people's eyes the best RPG of recent years. Granted, it looks great and the VATS works, but it's very difficult to say anything other than that until we've had chance to play more in the comfort of our own gaming pit. Ed note: Our PC Gamer brother has done exactly that and spent five hours with it. See his impressions here.

Hype justified?: Semi.

Posted by MrBumble - at 15:55

Jeuxvideo.fr, one of the biggest French gamesites, has played Fallout 3 at the E3 and gives us its impressions through this article, also available at Clubic.

One should remember that the game is still in development and that it won't be released until several months. However, it is impossible not to be disappointed by this Xbox 360 version. Impossible to miss the systematic aliasing of the scenery and a certain lack of "sharpness" of the textures. Even worse, the whole thing really lacks "a sense of life" even though we are dealing with a post-apocalyptics world. No, the real problem lies elsewhere, particulary for the fans of the previous episodes : it is impossible to find the artistic design, style of Fallout 1 & 2. Bethesda seems to have been instead inspired by something like Mad Max.

[...]

very soon, the player is confronted to another way of "breaking the rythm" : too numerous loading screens. The slightest changing of zone is synonymous of several seconds of loading which we hope will be reduced until the game is released.

[...]

Too bad that the interface, materialized here by the famous PipBoy on the main character's forearm, is not more intuitive : nothing dramatic about it but Bethesda did not completely correct the problem Oblivion already had. We could not see the PC version, but we certainly DO hope that on this platform, the studio has understood the lesson a little better.

[...]

The game immediately feels like Oblivion and goes away rather clearly from the previous episodes. It is not really a surprise, but it will probably disappoint some of the nostalgic fans. The dialog system works exactly like Oblivion's, so does the integreation of secondary quests offered by the different NPCs and one soon has the impression of playing a post-apocalyptic remake of that same Oblivion. It is not necessarily a bad thing but the forementionned nostalgics probably won't take it too kindly. On the other hand, Elder Scrolls fans will probably be delighted by this changing of universe, especially since the Mad Max atmosphere we were talking of is rather well rendered.

[...]

Finally, but then again the thirty minutes we were allowed to play the game were probably to blame, the gigantic world we were told of by Bethesda seemed rather limited and very rigid : one can of course go where one wants, but the lack of a real aim immediately gets perceptible. To put an end to this short preview and to temperate this feeling of deception, I would like to say that 30 minutes for a game like Fallout 3 is obviously not the right way to get into the subject. Let's hope that Bethesda will so allow us to go further deep !
Thanks to Pluton.

News for Friday, July 18, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 21:58

Hailing back to the pre-E3 hands-on rounds, the PCZone and PC Gamer magazines are hitting the doormats. You've seen most of the PC Gamer preview in Games Radar, but they also tagged on an interview. incognito and daedalusaf give some tidbits from the interview on the BGSF:

[incognito] They mention where you get the Vault Combat suit. You get Vault Combat Armor from Moira -- the store owner from Megaton. Apparently she has it on display when you first meet her, she gives it to you as a quest reward(probably for scoping out Super Duper Mart)

[daedalusaf] A run down of the perks listed in the mag: (as much as I can remember. Magazine not with me atm)

Gun Nut - Every level of Gun Nut adds to Small Arms and Repair skill
Major Leaguer (or something to that effect. Don't remember. Little leaguer perhaps?) - Every level adds to Melee and Unarmed (not sure about unarmed)
Daddy's Boy/Girl - adds to Science and Medicine
Quick Learner (or Fast Learner) - Same as old one. Extra xps
Bloody Mess - No intro needed. But also adds a little extra damage
Lady Killer/ Black Widow - extra dialogue options for opposite sex, plus extra damage against opposite sex as well
So nothing much new there. Briosa's blog offers goodies from the PCZone preview.
I’ve just got my issue of PCZone here in the UK and there’s a TEN page FO3 preview. It’s written by their resident Fallout fan Will Porter and he seems generally happy with the build he’s got. I thought I’d give you a few quotes from the mag if you fancy using them (I can post scans up at some point if you’d be interested in those):

“Is Fallout 3 Oblivion with guns? No, not really. While it’s true that when you enter houses and watch people go about their business it instantly smacks of the last rendition of The Elder Scrolls, it seems that the old Fallout sensibilities and mannerisms are here as foundation and not lip gloss.”

“Having played the game for only five hours, and with many of the hang-ups people had with Oblivion only becoming apparent after 50, I can’t be definitive about this – but in terms of building a modern game on the systems of one that’s now 10 years old, it’s hard to think of how Fallout 3 could have been tied closer to what has gone before.”

He goes on to say it’s the best implemented FPRPG he’s played before; better than Vampire: Bloodlines, Oblivion, and (potentially) better than Deus Ex (which is big news in PCZ, as it’s one of their favourite games ever). He also mentions ‘The Family’ but describes them as Brahmin killers; there’s no talk of Vampires. He says the dialogue and voice acting, while not up there with Fallout, is “a bazillion” times better than Oblivion (he even name checks NMA at this point).

The biggest concern he raises is the house you get in Megaton:

“To me, this seems incongruous to the post-apocalyptic setting – it may have worked in the prosperous boroughs of Cyrodiil, but you honestly feel in Fallout you shouldn’t be able to order in much more than a rusty bucket and a blanket.”

Finally, he says what really stands out in the game is the exploration aspect, you really feel like you’re wandering a desolate, bombed out America.
NMA would like to reminder its readers at this point that whenever one of Fallout 3's previewers says "it's not Oblivion with guns" they are directly contradicting the game's makers. Their call, tho'.

Posted by Brother None - at 21:40

This one is a doozy. A short one from Crave.

Every year, E3 has one game on display that's almost universally tagged as the critical favorite, despite not having the big-name pedigree of a Halo or Grand Theft Auto. Last year, it was the underwater adventure BioShock, which -- thanks to a steady drumbeat of positive press coverage--went on to sell a few million copies and become a true sleeper hit.

This year, it's Fallout 3, a post-apocalyptic RPG set in the ruins of Washington DC. The original Fallout games were PC titles from the early '90s, so the franchise can't rely on the faded memories of aging fans to sell big holiday numbers when it's released this fall. Instead, developer Bethesda has modeled the game on its previous big hit, the popular 2006 sword-and-sorcery RPG Oblivion.
A fairly short one from the Escapist.
One area in which Fallout 3 differs greatly from Oblivion is in the combat. Whereas Oblivion's was always a bit disappointing, Fallout 3's is far more satisfying, especially when using the VAT system. You can simply attack an enemy in real time, or you can hit the right shoulder button (on the 360, anyway) to bring up the VAT system, which pauses the action and allows you to target specific body parts on your enemy. Each use of the VAT system requires a certain number of Action Points; your total Action Point allotment is dependent on your personal agility and Perks.
GameDaily.
We then venture forward until we find an isolated shack with someone living inside. We go in and find an attractive blonde inside. After talking to her for a bit, we decided to play dirty and loot her house. Like anyone would react to a home invasion, the woman comes at us with a gun, so we take her out and check her house for any other loot. We didn't find much, unfortunately, and also noticed that our karma level had dropped a notch or two, which, later in the game will affect how non-player characters react to our presence.

Our time with the game ended shortly after, and for someone who plays shooters regularly, it took a little readjusting to the turn-based shootouts, which in the end, turned out to be one of the more interesting elements of the demo. We also loved the roam anywhere, do anything futuristic apocalyptic environment with a big, foreboding plot bubbling just underneath the surface. If this isn't the 'it' game of 2008, we'll be very surprised, indeed.
A better-sized one from VGChartz.
There's the typical set of RPG elements here, with stats and skills and abilites and a hefty inventory galore tucked away within an elaborate and rather humorous menu system. But the really cool part is the radio stations that you can tune into in different locations. In the ruined DC area (Capital Wasteland), for instance, you can listen to a propaganda broadcast from the "President", who's taken over the country, while you play the game. There was also a news broadcast, and even one from a China-based station. Some of the broadcasts appear to give you information for seeking out side quests as well. Really this was the most entertaining part of the demo, but I'm one of those people who enjoys listening to the fake talk radio stations in Grand Theft Auto, too.
Probably the best of this bunch comes from WorthPlaying.
On its own, Fallout 3 controls like a fairly simple FPS. The right analog stick aims your gun, right trigger fires, and left trigger allows you to steady the gun for greater accuracy. V.A.T.S. (Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System) should turn the game into something slightly more familiar to Fallout vets. Combat pauses once you activate V.A.T.S, and all of your enemies become highlighted. In this mode, you can choose to aim at specific body parts or even target the enemy's weapon; each target you select will drain points from your character's AP (Action Points) meter. After you confirm your selections, your character will instantly fire off a volley of shots targeting those specific parts. The more difficult the body part may be to hit, the lower your shot accuracy will be, so not all of the shots will hit their intended targets. For example, my first target inside the school was a Ruffian, who was running and screaming at me with a makeshift spear. A volley of V.A.T.S.-assisted shots promptly crippled his legs and one of his arms, turning him from a threat into a simple target. This use left my AP drained, but thankfully, it recovers pretty quickly. For the most part, I found that it was best to use FPS controls in areas where you have plenty of room to move and aim carefully, and V.A.T.S. in places where I needed to make my shots count or I was going to get a spear in the face.

After a brief exploration of the school, I ventured back to the comparatively brighter wasteland, and after a short trip, I encountered the game's first town. It was a small town, as these things go, but it absolutely packed to the brim with sub-plots, sadly few of which I got to explore. The most interesting of these was the Children of the Atom, a cult-slash-church that worshipped an unexploded nuclear bomb located in the center of the town. I had a few options for what I could do with these fellows, including tinkering with the bomb itself. My explosive skill wasn't high enough, though, so I didn't get to see if it was possible to set it off or simply disarm it. Beyond the many sub-plots, there were simply a ton of areas to explore in the town. I was able to venture in any house I could see, and I discovered a lot of areas that I'd want to explore if I had greater stats, such as a mysterious locked house that required a Lockpick skill substantially higher than even a 10th-level character could hope to achieve.
(...)
All this scavenging comes at a price. When exploring, you'll find certain items or doors marked in red, and if you take those items or pick those locks, your Karma will drop, and you'll end up ticking off a lot of people. One unfortunate foray into the Children of the Atom's stronghold left me faced with an entire group of angry people who were out for my blood. To make matters worse, every item I took or door I opened dropped my Karma, and once the Children of the Atom got angry at me, fighting back also dropped my Karma further. It's entirely possible to play Fallout 3 as some sort of homicidal maniac, but don't expect to do so without anyone calling you on it.

For those of us of the less violent persuasion, Fallout 3 includes plenty of people to talk to. Conversations take place in a fairly simple menu-driven system, where you pick your choice and the character responds. The twist is that not all of your choices are available at all times, and certain conversation choices are only available to certain characters. Your skills will also influence the success rate of conversations; a character with high Charisma and Speech skills may be able to charm information out of a normally uptight individual, and those with a high intelligence may notice something that less clever characters don't. If you're discussing explosives, having a high Explosive skill will make it more likely that folks will believe you. Even certain perks influence your choices. The Lady Killer perk, for example, gives you a bonus for talking to female characters and also provides a couple of conversation choices that wouldn't normally be available. If you're the kind of gamer who just wants to get back to the shooting, you can ignore most of these conversation trees and focus on the smashing, but it might come back to haunt you later.
Medium-size GamingTarget. GamingTarget confirms what Emil Pagliarulo said here, you can't target in melee in VATS.
I switched to the baseball bat in my inventory menu and began beating him up in real-time mode and then trying VATS using melee attacks. With melee, the targeting covers an enemy's entire body, so there's no limb selection. You still have to be worried about using up Action Points (AP), which limit the number of attacks you can perform using VATS. AP auto-restores as you move in real-time, so when I killed the man and was startled by an aggressive cow, I had to do a lot of running backwards. That way, I could keep moving so the cow wouldn't trample me to death and keep increasing my AP to target her through VATS until she tipped over for the final time.
Gamester.
It’s also in large part an action game, almost to the point of first-person shooter. But Fallout purists, don’t be worried. As a Fallout purist myself I like the system because in addition to pure FPS it’s also very tactical thanks to a targeting system that lets you stop the action to target limbs and other body parts. It fits the atmosphere of the game very well.
ABC News10.
Gunplay is gratifying, particularly when using the Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System, better known as V.A.T.S. When enemies approach, you'll hit the shoulder button. The game pauses and shows parts of an enemy's body and the percentage of a direct hit. You can then cue up shots to systematically take down Raiders or other foes.

In one fight, for example, my opponent ran down when he was severly injured. As he ran, I used V.A.T.S. to target his legs and cripple him.
GiantRealm, calling the experience of playing Fallout 3 "visceral".
There's been a lot of animosity bubbling around the internet about Bethesda's decision to use VATS rather than a true turn-based combat engine, and while it probably won't sit right with the most die-hard Fallout purist, VATS is an elegant system that makes combat feel more tactical than just pointing and shooting.

One more worrisome aspect of my admittedly short time playing was how much time I spent with VATS and how little I spent doing the other Fallout-y stuff, like fast-talking shop keepers, finding weird side quests and cheating hardworking people out of their money.

Posted by 13pm - at 11:04

1Up has put up their video of another demo walkthrough. While Todd shows the gameplay, 1Up's staff ask him some questions about the game. As expected, the demo shows off the same area and nearly the same walktrough. There is some new stuff, though. For example, there's a new loading screen and info on getting a bottle cap each time you drink a bottle of Nuka Cola.




Thanks to Anani Masu and Jabu for heads up.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:58

Polygamia editorializes.

Regardless of everything else, Interplay was not able to make Fallout 3, and the rights to Van Buren is such a complicated matter, that there's no point in going into that. Besides, the times have changed, the market has changed, the players have changed. That there's no place for a Fallout-style RPG on the market was something its makers discovered. After leaving Interplay, they founded Troika Games. Not having the rights to the series, they wanted to create a so called "spiritual successor" using their own engine, with isometric view, turn-based combat, a complex statistics system, etc. And they went from door to door of various powers that be in the industry, hearing that no one in his right mind will risk putting their money in such a project. Even though the makers of the game were not just some random people.
(...)
Pretty much all of the controversies connected with Bethesda's latest production are not about whether Fallout 3 will be a good game, but whether it will be a good Falout. But here the sad, grey reality with the face of a grim accountant appears. Fallout 3 made like the first two Fallouts would be a financial disaster, I have no doubts about it. No one buys a license for millions of dollars to achieve ambitious failures, especially in the 21st century, when games are being published for all possible platforms and for an audience as wide as possible. Looking at what we've seen of F3 so far, I've seen big nods to the classics made by Bethesda, and they really didn't have to. Their money, their will.
(...)
Those who think that Blizzard proved that you can do it differently with Diablo 3 forget about the petition saying that the colors shown in Paris are too bright. And the situation is pretty much uncomparable. Blizzard has been operational all the time, is in excellent financial condition and Diablo is a big financial hit. However, I'm far from saying that critique of Bethesda's work was unnecessary. It was very much needed, and only the makers know how much more Fallout there is in Fallout 3 because of it.
(...)
I have only one grievance with Bethesda. This game should not be called Fallout 3. It could have any other name, like Fallout: Super Duper Mart, and it would take care of many of the issues. JoWooD was smarter. The new Gothic game, being made by a different company (Spellbound) than the previous installments (Piranha Bytes) will be called Gothic Tale. Maybe the change is not big, but it takes care of many problems. Besides, other problems like this will soon come up. How much Deus Ex will there be in Deus Ex 3? How much Beyond Good & Evil in Beyond Good & Evil 2? It's also worth looking at and comparing to Bethesda's Fallout.
We thank thee, Ausir.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:32

The fifth round of Fallout 3 hands-on previews from E3 starts and ends here! OC Register assures us the public gameplay demo is deceiving.

After watching the promo for “Fallout 3″ on G4 yesterday, I was less than enthused. It looked a little clunky, to be honest, and it certainly didn’t seem that appealing.

I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

I got some hands-on time with Bethesda’s revamp of the Fallout series today, and it’s gorgeous. What looked muddy on the G4 broadcast was vibrant and full of life.
2OpGaming.
Walking through the world I was greeted by a two headed cow in the first two minutes of play which seemed like a randomly spawned creature much like in Oblivion. I was also attacked randomly by savaged rats and wild dogs when exploring the world. The draw distance in the game is once again incredible however in this build there was some texture pop in. However, much like Oblivion there’s only so much one console can handle.
IGN Vault Network.
There were only five minutes left of my hands-on time so I decided to head toward the next most inconspicuous locale. When I got to this gas station looking place I was suddenly prompted that a named enemy was attacking me. WOOT! I found a boss fight.
I took a few practice shots at him to see what I was looking at. He was extremely buff because none of my bullets seemed to hurt him. I tried to use the VAT but missed most of my shots due to the range of my attack. Before I could move into a better position I was attacked by two demon zombie dogs and was forced to retreat back to avoid being shot by the boss while I dealt with his canine. Using the VAT at close range proved extremely powerful. I focused all my attack points on shooting their heads and decapitated both dogs in a blaze of glorious bullets. The boss then proceeded to shoot me with his rifle and I ducked behind a rock to heal. When I looked up I saw the boss running into the distance and my hands-on time was over.

It’s obvious to me that fans of the series will undoubtedly love the game and newcomers will easily relate to the FPS and RPG elements present in Fallout 3. This is definitely one to add to your watched games list.
The Next Level.
There are a lot of stats, skills, abilities, et cetera. Not quite as many as the previous games in the Fallout series, but I found that a bit too cumbersome anyway. There's still more than a dozen basic stats to modify and develop your character any way you like, plus special abilities to bump them up even further, like the Lady Killer that's about winning a woman's heart by hacking out of her chest. All of these stats, maps, and other assorted data are managed by the Pipboy, standing as a cheerful 50s style cartoon character who, like the short clips in BioShock, extols in gruesome acts.

Fallout 3 works, and I'm not damning with faint praise here. You have a cult franchise with dedicated fans, the creation of a massive world in a style that's never been done before (since S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was almost entirely based on real locations), FPS mixed with RPG, all the decriers of the little too procedural Oblivion, and the most competitive video game market the world has ever seen. Even from my limited experience with the game, I could feel the same tingle of discovery as when I loaded up the original Fallout for the first time - or going back further, when I stormed the first town in its predecessor, Wasteland. The feeling that I was on the verge of an epic adventure I'd never forget.
Game Informer is a proponent of "this really is Fallout".
The fact that Bethesda’s plan to bring the beloved series to consoles has been controversial is pretty much old hat at this point. Many people have made up their minds about the game, and after playing it, it’s unfortunate that that’s the case. Fallout 3 is a Fallout game. It’s not Oblivion with guns or whatever other things forum-goers have sniffed since the game was announced. If anything, Bethesda’s worst PR enemy with Fallout 3 is, well, Bethesda.

The demos that Bethesda has given on the game have done a great job of showing off a lot of features in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, that kind of compressed experience has really misrepresented what the game seems to feel like. Mini nukes and tons of explosions are a fun way to show off the game engine’s impressive particle and smoke effects, but they’re understandably off-putting for people who didn’t think the first two games were quite so bombastic.
(...)
The best part of the demo was that minutes passed between these encounters. The world itself was interesting enough that I wanted to explore it, and it was great to have the freedom to do so without having to wade through dozens of fights every few hundred yards or so. For instance, I spied an interesting-looking building far on the horizon at one point. I used it as a bearing, and worked my way over to it. Eventually I stumbled upon an NPC named Tinker Joe just outside the Robco Facility. He offered to sell me one of his robot companions, but unfortunately his 1,000 bottlecap price was too rich for my blood. Maybe later, Joe.
For two final bits, Kotaku highlights the drugs that got Fallout 3 banned, and some Destructoid blogger lets us listen in on what you hear when you call the number from the Perfect Life trailer (starts at 1:30).

News for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 18:35

4th round, and no sign of letting up. Our host AtomicGamer turns an eye on Fallout 3.

My next playthrough was more RPG-like, as I visited the little shanty-town of Megaton to meet its mayor/sheriff and a few of its denizens. I picked up quests to figure out how to disarm a bomb that had been sitting in town for a while, and was told to check out the saloon to see about starting on the game's main storyline. I decided to head off the beaten path here and just explore Megaton a bit, and found that it's a very interesting little place where people are barely holding on in this nuked-out world. The water's irradiated, the people are generally standoffish and you'll have to use your persuasive abilities - assuming you have them - pretty often to open up new experiences or improve the ones you'd get if you were just a pure gunslinger.
(...)
Even though Fallout 3 has more action than the turn-based originals or even modern entries in the genre, the RPG elements are still a crucial factor in how encounters in it play out. Those with persuasive skills and perks can gain an edge in some cases by receiving better gear, can avoid difficult fights entirely, and will see a significantly different game than a fully combat-oriented character would. It won't be as entirely different as the vastly unique playstyles that could be employed in the turn-based originals, but it's not that far off, either.
(...)
Having said all this, Bethesda is still being tight-lipped about many elements of the game, and in the realm of over-hype and dozens of screenshots and trailers being released for so many recent titles, I find it rather nice that at least one developer out there still wants to keep most of their game a secret until it's out. It's not always a popular approach, but it is an original one. Fallout 3 still doesn't have an exact release date either on PC or Xbox 360, but it hasn't changed from the "Fall 2008" timeframe that it's been set on for more than a year now.
FileFront.
Well I have good and bad news for Fallout fans. Fallout 3 makes the transition well but only if you’re a fan of the Oblivion style of gaming (which I most definitely am). Controlling the character, implementing stat points and choosing perks using the Pip boy interface were all simple and intuitive.

Unlike Oblivion, Fallout 3 does not rely on a clunky interface. There is inventory management but its reminiscent of the older Fallout’s turn based grid with a few modern updates. The change of setting - from a medieval combat system to a modern gun-slinging wasteland works well also. I demo’d the game on the 360 and the title showed the same visual finesse of Bethesda’s earlier game. Those who found fault with the dialog interface or camera system of that title will find it virtually unchanged.

I spent a good deal of time navigating and interacting with NPCs. Dialog choices that could be influenced by skills were set apart - including the percentage chance of success, though the actual “roll” was hidden it was obvious when you succeeded or failed. This little tweak felt like a good reflection of the classic games and the content of the dialog also followed a more adult, humorous bent in the area of Megaton.
The always excellent Gamernode.
I had to hurry up and get to town if I wanted to see any of the game's dialog within my allotted time, so I hightailed it to Megaton and visited with some NPCs. The system looks similar to the Elder Scrolls and old Fallout games, with many options in the tree and the ability to use your character's skills to your advantage. There is nothing terribly revolutionary here, but it definitely looks like players will be able to cultivate the character personality of their choice using the appropriate dialog selections.

Character customization plays an important roll in Fallout 3. Fans of previous Fallout games will be happy to learn that the game retains many of the specific design elements of earlier titles in that area. Each character will have the familiar basic statistics of strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck, as well as a long list of skills that can be leveled up independently in order to shape the individual play style of each character. From energy weapons, small guns, melee combat, and explosives to science, sneak, speech, and medicine, there are plenty of skills that players can focus on. Lastly, perks are back. They grant players bonuses to certain skills or provide other benefits like faster leveling or increased damage to certain types of enemies.
Finally, Joystiq - in anticipation of their hands-on preview - provides a short QA not worth a separate mention, discussing the PipBoy clock in the Survival Edition.
Q: Like something you would snap onto your wrist?

We talked about it being a modified controller. Instead of having to pull it up in the screen, it had a screen that you could just pull up and [screen button punching noises]. Then we talked about a snap-in on the PS3 that would work the PSP. You could just snap your PSP into it and talk to your screen. It just became too crazy. "This thing is gonna cost $500! Another screen? How does it work on the platforms?" It was just too much for us to bite off.
RPGFan.
Fallout 3 uses the previous titles' SPECIAL attribute system. We had access to a small spattering of perks as our level 2 selves, which ranged from increased ability with numerous types of ranged weapons to the ability to have extra dialogue options with people of the female persuasion. While we didn't have access to a great deal of the dialogue with the perk or otherwise, Bethesda promises that the game's choices will be beefy and will actually matter to the player. In addition, choices the player makes aren't limited to dialogue options. When I killed the sheriff of Megaton and stole his cowboy hat, the citizens of the city were none too happy with me and began to mob me. I had to flee the city and I lost access to the quests in the city. On the up side, however, I had a cowboy hat.
PSU.
The coolest thing about Fallout 3 without question is the ability to zoom in and scan your intended target before you start shooting. If you tap R1, your camera will zoom straight to the nearest target on screen. If you’d like the target to the left or right, you simply tap left or right with your analog and it’ll sail across to the next available option. Once you’ve finally found the enemy you’re looking for, you’ll be able to see what percentage you have of hitting a certain section of its body. Depending on how probable the percentage it, you’ll choose which part to fire at and how many shots you’d like to take (from a maximum of four). At this point, you’ll click X and the game will move into a slow bullet-time like state where you can watch your shot float majestically through the air into its intended target.

Yes, this looks as cool as it sounds. I actually shot the head off of a giant ant from a great distance utilizing this tactic. Watching the head explode in a marvel of green ooze was beyond stunning and amusing to boot. This small, simple addition ended up working wonders for the game's presentation and overall enjoyment level.
Thanks to Prator for the last two links. Finally, Ars Technice Blog.
By the end of my time I had a sweet gas mask, some spiked armor, and I had taken to wielding a sledge-hammer instead of my gun. I killed all the scavengers inside a very creepy school, got into some extended combat against super-mutants, and was ready to keep playing by the time I was forced to leave. The game play feels solid, the graphics are very impressive, and the whole thing just feels right. While all plot details and spoilers from the loading screens are verboten to discuss, the experience was a grand. This is going to be a very popular game.

Posted by Per - at 16:53

Another European hands-on preview written in a language that hardly anyone understands, so here are the notes and translations by Ausir:

I spent a bit more than half an hour with the newest Bethesda production. I walked through the Wasteland, I looked through the Pip-Boy and caused lots of trouble in the town of Megaton. What are my impressions? Hm. I was asked about it by Todd Howard. I lost my tongue for a moment, and, with a feeling of guilt, I mumbled that I expected something more.
Some new bits and comments on the old ones:

* Our items are divided into 5 categories - weapons, clothes (including armor), chems, misc and ammo. He found a baseball cap, in which the PC looked a bit silly.
* The only radio station he was able to catch was Enclave Radio - the patriotic music sounds atmospheric, but does not fit the convention too well.
* The PipBoy also has a list of achievements, such as "corpses eaten", "Mysterious Stranger visits" and "Bobbleheads found".
* He finds a road sign to Megaton and a moment later encounters the first NPCs.
* The dialogue engine is 100% the same as in Oblivion. We walk up to the character, press the action button and the game world freezes. We see the stiff interlocutor in the middle of the screen and select our sentences. The facial movements are lifeless, the voices are "theatrical", it all looks artificial and "turn-based". It's not about mechanics, it's about the presentation, especially compared to Mass Effect.
* The first character encountered is Micky - a beggar begging us for water. The previewer refuses.
* The next one is a merchant named Crow. Aside from bartering goods for bottlecaps, he can also repair items.
* The next NPC has nothing to say. When approached, he only has a generic line. Just like in Oblivion.
* Next he finds a brahmin with some trunks, and a dead giant ant. He can't find a living one, but encounters a group of mole rats.
* Time to enter Megaton. The PC is greeted by sheriff Lucas Simms. He's not nice, so the previewer selects the most aggressive answers. It eventually leads to him being threatened and then to combat. He kills the sheriff using VATS.
* He notes that if EVERY opponent killed in VATS will have a five-times-too-long death scene then it's not his thing. By the way, he doesn't think he's seen a game at E3 that did not include Bullet Time. Heh.
* After killing the sheriff, all the people of Megaton take out their weapons and go after the PC. There are too many enemies, so he goes to a nearby building. The locals go after him. He goes upstairs, taking someone's possessions from their closet on his way up. They get him and he doesn't have much of a chance in a 4-to-1 combat. He runs out of VATS Action Points quickly and he doesn't have enough space to maneuver in RT. He dies.
* He repeats the above a few times. Turns out that the only way to make peace with the locals is to leave the town for some time - the more serious the crime, the longer it takes for the townsfolk to forget it.
* He finishes with trying real time combat with some mole rats. For him it's too much of an FPS, and depends on the player's skills too much. The most effective technique is to run backwards while shooting at the rat. It will probably be more difficult with stronger opponents, but there's lots of opportunities to cheat the AI.
It's too early to give my final opinion on Fallout 3, but you know my personal feelings. There's lots of cool little things and solid RPG craft, but... I lost all illusions I had. Fallout is no longer Fallout - it's a post-nuclear version of Oblivion. For good and bad, as Oblivion is a great game and Bethesda is one of the best RPG developers on the market."
Dropped into our newsbox by someone who forgot to name the source.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:59

A new HD gameplay video on GameVideos.com shows some gameplay elements, such as using stimpaks, hacking and the Rock-It-Launcher. Nothing new, but you can view it in more detail now. After showing the thinky method of hacking and using the Rock-It-Launcher in VATS, an "alternate method" is shown, in which the PC just blasts his way through in real time with a minigun.

Thanks Ausir and Anani Masu.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:48

Reverend "the first Fallout is my favorite RPG of all time" Anthony tries out Fallout 3 on Destructoid.

Exiting the vault reminded me why, despite whatever complaints one might have with the way Bethesda handles Fallout, the epic first-person 3D RPG will always be better than 2D, isometric third person perspective. In the original Fallout, as you’re leaving the vault, some text tells you something like, “You see a bright light ahead of you. This is the first time in your life you have seen sunlight.” That’s well and good, but it’s nothing like actually stepping out of the Vault into pure whiteness, so bright and overwhelming that I momentarily thought the game had crashed. The whiteness slowly faded away, however, and I realized that my character, the vault dweller, was adjusting his eyes to a sunlight he’d never before been exposed to in his life.

It was awesome.
(...)
I got lost, and ended up in a small house. A young woman with white hair came out, asking if a nearby gangster from Megaton had sent me to collect her debt. I told her no, that I was just looking for my dad, that I didn’t want any trouble, and that I would take her money to the gangster for her so she wouldn’t have to risk it. She thanked me and gave me all her bottle caps.

Then I shot her to death.

What? Don't judge me.

I wanted to see if, as was the case in the original Fallout, you could kill any character at any time. And, if that poor woman was any indication, you can.
He spends most of his hands-on time shooting people and spends most of the preview talking about how awesome flying body parts are.

Next, ActionTrip.
Action elements aside, this is, after all, a role-playing game and as such you can be sure it will require players to keep an eye on the character's stats, perks and such. These aren't just for show. From what we've seen, perks definitely play an important role, gameplay wise, and can be selected once you level up. One of the most popular perks during Bethesda's Fallout 3 E3 demo, was the 'Bloody Mess' perk. Once activated, it gives you a chance to carry out extremely violent moves, either with a sniper rifle or a different custom-built weapon (rocket launcher, anyone?). We were also shown how the main character faces a group of raiders -- basically, bandits who are very hostile. They seemed capable of damaging the character from a distance, which is why we found the sniper rifle as rather friendly piece of equipment. The AI can handle itself pretty good. When injured, your character brings up the PipBoy 3000 to access and use stimpacks, radiation medicine and similar items to restore health.

Don't worry, like I said, more RPG elements are in there too. There's a huge number of items scattered throughout the world. At first glance, most of the stuff lying around appeared like useless junk, but Bethesda explained most of it can be used to craft weapons. Bear in mind that a lot of cool and useful things -- not to mention weapons -- may be picked up from fallen enemies as well, including ammo, assault rifles, pistols, grenades and so on.
Big Download Blog.
We spent most of our time in an abandoned elementary school as we explored, picked up items like food, water (needed for healing wounds) and mostly shooting (with your default pistol) mutant raiders who want you to take detention . . . permanently. Fallout 3 gives you two options for combat. You can play it as a simple shooter or you can switch to the VATS system which stops the game completely and allows you to select specific points on your enemies body to shoot along with the percentage of success.
That Videogame Blog.
You can actually play the game in three different ways. You can run around shooting in first-person, or you can do the same in third-person, thus allowing you to see your custom built character (all the depth of character creation is still there) and the plethora of pretty outfits you can put him in (my favorite that I got to wear was the clothing from an enemy that I killed that had spikey shoulder pads). These two modes work pretty standardly, though the third person view keeps the camera so that you’re always looking over your characters shoulder, and it’s a little weird to not have him constantly centered.

It’s the third mode, called V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System), that’s the real kicker. Just like in the original Fallout, you can target different parts of an enemy with different percentage chances to score a hit. Hit a knee and a bad guy might go down, score a head shot and the fight could easily be over. The mode instantly turns a real-time fight into a turn-based one with flashy camera moves and kills. You just click the right bumper and the scene pauses and zooms in on your enemy, select where you want to place your shots and how many you want to take with the amount of “energy” you have, and then fire. The camera pulls out and shows you taking down the enemy (or totally missing). It’s a really interesting way to implement an old mechanic in a new way.
GamingNexus has a Dear John-format letter, with some photos of a BoS statue and Fatman model.
If you were here we would have talked about how the game is definitely running on the Oblivion engine as we left the Bethesda booth. It's not a bad thing mind you but the purists will probably complain a bit because that's what they do best. Saying that is akin to saying you're dating a prettier clone of Scarlett Johansson. The gameplay isn't perfect as the environments aren't fully interactive (I was spoiled by Bad Company) and there are still loading screens everytime you go in and out of an area. There are still some pop-in graphics as you explore the world and some of the models are a bit further up the uncanny valley wall than I'd like. That's all covered up by the wonderful sense of humr that Bethesda has worked into the game and the rest of the strong gameplay mechanics. I guess we'll find out soon enough when you get the game later this year.


Wired blog.
If the Fallout universe were only an aesthetic, Bethesda would have completely nailed it with the upcoming Fallout 3.

Unfortunately, as my half an hour with the game a few moments ago demonstrated, all the external pieces are there, but the charm that made the series such a classic is almost entirely lacking.

That's not to say it won't be good; Shooter fans and those who loved Bethesda's Oblivion will probably adore the freedom offered by the game's open-world post-apocalyptic setting.

Dyed in the wool Fallout fans, however, may not be so pleased.

Aesthetically and aurally, Fallout 3 is amazing.
(...)
The key problem with the game though is in the writing. It really feels like someone wrote a fanfic based on the Fallout universe and somehow got the funding to create a game based on it. Though the story and characters are suitably gritty and conflicted, none of them are terribly likeable and the entire thing simply feels like it's trying too hard to adhere to the tenets of its predecessors.

I predict a heavy backlash from long-time fans. At best Fallout 3 will be the blacksheep of the series: An oddity played only for completion's sake by those who absolutely adore the original games.

Luckily for Bethesda, the game will sell tons of copies to those gamers less in love with the series' past if only for its gorgeous graphics, entertaining gameplay and ridiculous levels of gore.
Team Xbox.
Kneeling while firing also helped in the accuracy department when attempting to manually take down the odd foes that we faced. Manual combat is essentially like Mass Effect or the other action/RPG’s that you have played– aim with the reticle and pull the trigger to shoot. Skilful action gamers can benefit from being handy with the steel, but those less into manual combat can opt for assistance from V.A.T.S. or the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. You’ve surely heard a lot about this and have probably seen it in action, but let us be one of the first to tell you that this is a massive asset to Fallout 3’s combat.
GamePro.
Fallout 3 might not be blowing anyone away yet, but based on what I played today at a special E3 hands-on session, fans of BioShock will be thrilled with Bethesda Softworks' latest action-RPG.

News for Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Posted by MrBumble - at 23:54

More hands-on with this article from gamekult.

"But the problem is that V.A.T.S seemed to be too efficient in the build we have played, in which one could easily defeat entire groups of enemies by using these "aimed shots" while the first person view condemned the player to a certain death. This impression partly comes from the lack of precision and agility of the FPS gameplay, which looks rather dull when compared to recent games of the same genre which have invaded the console market during the end of the last year. One can imagine that raising certain skills might improve that feeling while you shoot, but the heaviness of the character will certainly make us choose the slow motion carnage, despite the fact that it soon becomes very repetitive.

[...]

"The gigantic world promised by Bethesda Softworks looked actually quite narrow, with ceaseless and pretty long loadings once you get out of the vault, when you enter a town or when you enter a building. Even though the outside world we have had the opportunity to explore looked rather open at first sight, you get around the idea quickly without discovering anything really worth of interest. When you finally come across a derelict building that looks a bit interesting, you have to endure a long minute of loading before being able to eradicate its aggressive inhabitants. One might also want to notice that a pacific approach of the game was almost impossible during that fist hour of hands-on since we were a lot more the attacked than the aggressor."

[...]

"And if the developers of Bethesda usually manage to compensate their lack of artistic cohesion by a high-end engine, Fallout 3 was this time disappointing at all levels with its dull characters evolving amidst poor textures and low-poly models."

[...]

"If it's too soon to give a final judgement about this game, one has to admit that our first hour with the game at the E3 made us rather think of a somewhat clever Fallout mod for Oblivion than a real sequel of the Black Isle series. Whether it is at a design level, gameplay or the general feeling of the game, we are having a hard time making the link with the previous episodes of the post apocalyptic franchise. It does not mean that we did not enjoy Fallout 3, which should probably find an audience among Oblivion fans, probably growing tired of perpetual heroic fantasy universes...However, among fanatics of the "good era", it seems rather unlikely that Fallout 3 could manage to make them forget what could have been if Black Isle did not fall at the end of 2003."

Posted by Brother None - at 23:50

Three more hands-on previews have surfaced from E3. We'll start with Xbox 360 Fanboy (thanks Briosafreak), who swing us right back to the good old Oblivion with Guns talk.

Some things must be made clear. One, I played Bethesda's Fallout 3 today. Two, I have never played a Fallout title before, so I can't judge it based on the merits of the series. Joystiq will detail the differences between Fallout 3 and its predecessors in its hands on preview llater this week. With that out of the way, let me just throw this on the table: Fallout 3 is Oblivion with guns. It's a short analysis, but I stand by it. If one were to expand upon this analysis, one might say that Fallout 3 is a post-apocalyptic Oblivion with guns. Having said that, allow me elaborate that this is a compliment. Oblivion fans will understand this. Upon hearing my analysis, our own Xav de Matos noted, "I think I need a cigarette.... that sounds awesome."
GameSpy decided to return a mere 2 days after publishing their first hands-on preview.
We decided to dedicate every action point we had to try to score that elusive assault-rifle headshot. The results were worth the effort. The camera swung around to show our attack from over the enemy's shoulder. Our rifle round streaked through the air and -- hello, M Rating -- blasted apart our foe's skull in a hail of brains.

"Stay in school!" I shouted.
And GameZone.
You can save at any time and the NPCs are very interactive. One of the first you will see outside of the city of Megaton gives you the choice to walk on by or to pick his pocket. That is another facet of the game. What you do will result in how others within this single-player world react to you. Actions have consequences.
Wait, the NPC gives you the choice to walk on by or pick his pocket?
The control scheme was very intuitive, and the sound, played at a lower level through headphones captured the wasteland perfectly. The graphics could be a little bloody at times. As the created character (Bethesda had stations with pre-created characters on it) walked through the wasteland, he was beset by a wild dog. Taking the typical first-person shooter route, he backed up while emptying his clip on his 10mm gun into the dog. He literally blew the head off the animal. Anything destroyed or killed in the game does have the option of a loot drop, which can be placed into inventory and then sold later.
Link: Fallout 3 hands-on preview at GameSpy.
Link: Fallout 3 hands-on preview at Xbox 360 Fanboy.
Link: Fallout 3 hands-on preview at GameZone.

Posted by Per - at 16:47

VentureBeat asked Todd a handful of questions primarily about "franchises and sequels".

VB: What’s the role of big game franchises today in the game industry?

TH: I see a lot of developers and publishers really trying to milk their franchises. I can’t say whether that’s good or bad because some of them are doing it really successfully in terms of giving fans what they really like. For example, I’m a nut for “NCAA Football” and I don’t buy that thing every year and I think they do a great job. There are other games, too, where I look at them and say, “That’s the same. I don’t want to do that every year.” I think it’s good for people to miss things. Ten years between “Fallout” is a bit long, but I think there’s this nostalgia factor. People like seeing something, at least I do, being redone again like, “Oh, I remember that, and now look at it.” If there was a new “Fallout” every other year, this wouldn’t have the same impact. Even with our “Elder Scrolls” stuff, which take a long time to make, we don’t rush sequels out. I think franchise fatigue can set in with consumers and sometimes with developers, as well.

VB: What is a good timeframe for “Fallout.” Would you wait another 10 years for “Fallout 4”?

TH: No, that’s too long. I think it depends on the game. Sometimes you just know that the time is right. If they’re big games, I think three years is a good timeframe. But at the same time, the “GTAs” on the PS2 were big games. “GTA III” came out and “Vice City” came out 10 months later and I liked that game more. You can argue both sides of it. I think for us, we’d rather take our time with them and let people miss the last one or forget the other one a little bit, because we also like to change things a lot.
Spotted on the Bethblog.

Posted by 13pm - at 8:33

As expected, Gamespot has put up another Fallout 3 Gameplay video. It's still the same area and nearly the same actions made by Todd Howard and nearly the same comments. But there's a bit more, than was shown previously. You are able to see another loading screen, Todd also shows how the world map looks like and works.

Posted by Per - at 4:56

Gamespot put up a teaser from a coming Fallout 3 gameplay video. For now it's only 45 seconds, but shows a raider running back and forth, a juicy explosion, sheet metal raining from the sky, and the discovery of a new location. The sky, so bright! Stay tuned for the whole deal.

Posted by Brother None - at 4:08

GameSpot sat down at E3 to play a bit of Fallout. They discuss the VATS cinematics (no mention of an option to turn it off wholesale).

When an extremely powerful shot is landed in Fallout 3, the camera often slows down to show the full weight of your actions. In this case, we were treated to a few slow motion bullets, a tortured yelp, and two wolves who could only lamely limp in our direction as we slowly finished them off. The wolves are pretty easy compared to the other enemies in the wasteland, though.
(...)
As we continued along our path, cutting over hills and through pools of water, we came to a crumbling church. Here we found out it's not fun to be picked on by those stronger than you. The church was full of super mutants and centaurs who laughed off the tiny wounds our weak pistol doled out. One grotesque being wore a protective shell, so the only way to deal damage was to shoot it in a tiny eye hole, a low percentage shot. After shooting one club-wielding freak in the left leg ten times, we finally crippled him. He was no longer able to perform a lunging strike, but he still endlessly limped after us. When he got too close, he landed an off-balance blow directly on our arm. It caused the right arm, the one carrying the gun, to be crippled. You can continue to fight in this state, holding a wobbling gun and hoping for the best, or you can go into your Pip Boy screen and heal specific mangled parts. Even with a healed arm, the onslaught was too much and we found out the hard way that veering off the beaten path in Fallout 3 can lead to quick, painful deaths.

The death and the mutants are probably expected parts of Fallout 3, but one element that surprised us was the fully-functional third person view. We were able to position the camera in an optimal angle and distance behind us, and then it closely followed our every move. Fighting was just as easy and satisfying in this view and moving around the terrain felt just as natural as in first person mode.
Third-person over the shoulder, that is, not bird's eye.

And 1up.
But the best, and also the most reassuring, part of playing Fallout 3 is the combat. From this first taste, it seems genuinely capable of marrying the tactical nature of the originals with the trigger-heavy controls of a shooter. At any time you can call on the Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System (or V.A.T.S.) and stop time to take a planned action. When you do, action points can be spent on a number of different things, from basic called shots to firing more complex guns to using a skill to heal yourself. Your action points recharge once you use them up, but you are not completely helpless. You can always fire your weapons, just like you would in a shooter. The trade-off is that while firing, your action points come back much more slowly.

In practice, this keeps the game's pace moving along well, and it let us take on enemies that might have been tough to beat in a straightforward shootout. We could use up all our action points on precision shots to cripple an enemy as it came into range and then seamlessly slip right into shooter-mode to finish it off. This strikes a really nice balance. On the one hand, we get a sense that how we maneuver at the start of a fight -- and the perks we choose to improve our character -- really matter by letting us get an early jump on the critters. At the same time, because we knew we could just fall back on shooting, getting into a fight never feels like an interruption to the game, and using V.A.T.S. becomes like a sort of enhanced slo-mo.
IGN.
We approached the front door and entered, at which point the game went through a loading sequence. Once inside, we found dark hallways littered with debris from decayed walls and shattered furniture. From somewhere within the complex a raider yelled something threatening, then fired at us. Coming around a corner we spotted the threat, and, from a first-person perspective, blasted a few bullets at them in real-time. The raider was pretty far away and taking cover behind a broken door, so we decided to move forward and take advantage of the game's V.A.T.S. targeting system.

Since we were playing on an Xbox 360, we hit the right bumper to bring up targeting, which overlays percentages across each of the enemy's body parts. You then select which ones you want to damage: cripple an appendage, crit for bonus damage, or simply blow up their head. The camera shifts from your first- or third-person perspective to a more dynamic view of the targeted shots you take, showing hits, misses or special effects. Howard says the team has worked to ensure this section of battle isn't distracting or boring.
Link: We go hands on with Fallout 3 on GameSpot.
Link: Fallout 3 Hands-On on 1up.
Link: Fallout 3 Progress Report on IGN.

Posted by Per - at 3:38

For people who cannot overdose on Fallout 3 articles, we have "11 ways Fallout 3 will kick Oblivion's ass" from Games Radar. As the name implies it lists several things that Fallout 3 does to Oblivion's ass. Sort of embedded in this list is the story of their hands-on, which isn't that interesting at this point.

10. Nuclear catapults
In Oblivion, your projectile weapons were limited to simple bows and arrows of varying destructive capabilities. Oh, and magic spells, if you chose to become some kind of fruity wizard or whatever. Fallout 3, by contrast, gives you access to a broad variety of firearms, and the most impressive one we've seen is a handheld nuclear slingshot called the "Fat Man." Load up this baby, and you'll be able to launch tiny tactical nukes against your opponents, which produce huge explosions that you really don't want to stand too close to.

So, yeah: primitive bows and arrows versus shoulder-mounted atomic frigging catapults. We'd say Fallout 3 is the clear winner here.

11. Hats
HOLY SHIT YOU CAN WEAR HATS INSTEAD OF JUST HELMETS NOW.

THANK GOD.
Nothing really new; the interesting thing as usual is how extremely dismissive the press now is towards Oblivion, which was awesome yesteryear.

Thanks to K.C. Cool.

Posted by Per - at 2:42

We held this PS3 Fanboy snippet back during the height of the E3 excitement, but now it can be told: none of the "substantial" downloadable content planned for Fallout 3 will be available to PS3 users. Apparently Microsoft wants to randomly slam Sony or something.

Thanks cakefan (who by the way wanted to know if there are other PS3 owners here, so if you are one, wave your hand).

News for Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 23:59

Games Radar is offering the full PC Gamer US hands-on preview. It's a big one, clicking at three pages, here's some very lizardly excerpts:

  • "Melee VATS doesn’t let you target individual body parts, but it does increase your chance of scoring a critical hit and inflicting extra damage."
  • An alternative outcome to the Megaton quest: "[Sheriff] Sims immediately marched into the bar and arrested Burke, but made the rookie mistake of turning his back on the prisoner; Burke calmly drew a gun, shot the sheriff in the back (but he did not shoot the deputy), sat back down, and reminded me to finish the job. That’s not exactly how I expected things to go down, but on the bright side I did end up with a snappy new duster coat, hat, and Chinese-made assault rifle that the sheriff wouldn’t need anymore." (No one contested the ownership of an assault rifle? Maybe everyone has them.)
  • After defusing the bomb: "Sims’ son presented me with the deed to a vacant Megaton home as a reward. Inside my new residence I found (among other things) a robot butler who offered to give me a haircut, so I restyled my premade character’s bland hair to a bright red color and added a massive bushy handlebar mustache."
  • "Melee combat works very much as it does in Oblivion: one button strikes, another blocks."
  • "[V.A.T.S. dramatically changes the pace of combat from the “Oblivion with guns” scenario to something slower and more tactical. For example, I caught the raider closest to me in the act of equipping a flamethrower, so I made him a priority target."
  • "My action points, which you expend when using VATS, recharged at a rate that let me use the system pretty much as often as I wanted, although not for every shot."
  • One quest involves a town beleaguered by a group called the Family who bite people in the neck and drink their blood. They are a little like vampires.
  • "With the quest completed, the people of Arafu had outlived their usefulness to me... so I killed everyone in town for no other reason than that I was tired of playing Mr. Nice Guy." (Everyone in town? Think carefully now...)
  • "As I looted the blasted-apart remains of the raiders in the store, I found a note from my old pal Mr. Burke - it seems he wants me dead for my actions in Megaton."
GameSpot wrote down their impressions of the Fallout 3 Microsoft Conference presentation, in case you for some reason want to read impressions of something you can read yourself.

Moreover, Shacknews also presents us with their hands-on preview. And it certainly sets itself up differently.
"You so much as breathe, and I'm gonna fuckin' end ya."

The words may as well have been coming directly from Bethesda. It felt like the company was challenging me, daring me to write anything negative about their new sequel to Black Isle's classic RPG series. I was very skeptical of whether the company could match the tone and content of the original titles. As good as Bethesda is, the bar was set very high ten years ago.

But based on what I just played--and I had free reign to explore the world at whim--I came away feeling good about the game. Fallout 3 is not Fallout 2.5, and that can be a little disappointing at first, no matter how irrational of a feeling that is. But Fallout 3 is undoubtedly shaping up to be a solid game in its own right, and one that clearly takes many significant cues from the previous titles--from the opening scene, to the wonderfully realized PIPBoy menu. Oblivion: Fallout 3 this is not.
(...)
I decided to set out in one direction, exploring anything I came across. At one point I encountered a decaying school, the brilliantly textured marquee reading "Springfield Elementary." Upon entering the small school I began to scavenge for items, stopping here and there to pick up Stimpaks and Radaways. Just picking up items like Radaways felt good. Some crazed mutants soon appeared, and I was forced to kill them. On my way out I encountered a room of the school that held a giant cage, with several dead bodies hanging above it, like something out of Silent Hill. After seeing this, I quickly made my exit.

In short, this is not your father's Fallout. Some things are better, some things may not live up to expectations, and many things have stayed the same. I'll try to update this post later tonight with additional impressions of what I saw later on in my demo, including the excellent PIPBoy menu, the perk system, and other random bits of information.

Posted by Per - at 19:52

Gametrailers interviewed Todd, so you can watch him talk about Fallout 3 in SD or HD. There's mostly stills from the game, though, and no new information to speak of (or at least so I think, since the thing stops loading for me before I get to the end). If you want you can watch the monitors in the background.

Note: when you first see the horse, that's not actually Fallout 3 footage.

Spotted on the BGSF.

Posted by Per - at 18:55

As Incognito posted on the Bethboard, the E3 schedule on IGN shows that another Fallout 3 showing is slated for 2:30 PM PDT (11:30 PM CET). It will apparently last for approximately 30 minutes, so hopes are up for more than just showing off combat. If you don't have Livewire installed you should be able to watch it from Gamespot (which was working yesterday, but seems to be having technical problems now) or any number of other places.

We'll flesh this post out with content as we find it, unless the bears find us first.

Update: It turns out the demo area and action were largely the same this time as well. The interviewers were a bit more keen on hearing about the game world, and Todd went into more detail about some things like skills and crippling. Until there's a separate video, here are some notes given by a mysterious stranger before he was decapitated:

* The hacking minigame requires characters to have a high science skill to even attempt it.
* Having both legs crippled causes immobility.
* Having one or more arms crippled results in the reduction or removal of your ability to aim in real time and in V.A.T.S.
* Fatman explosions create background radiation and the character does take damage from this.
* Critters will switch weapons as appropriate, the example given being a raider switching from a missile launcher to a knife.
* Players can join factions through more than one means.
* The Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave will both feature in the main story.
* The demo character was confirmed to be edited.

Posted by 13pm - at 8:48

G4 has put up an extended gameplay footage with comments from Todd Howard. It's nearly the same that was shown at the Microsoft's Keynote, but some parts vary:



Thanks Jiggly McNerdington.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:50

The official Fallout 3 site offers a HD version of the Good Life trailer. The site's a bit up and down in speed right now, so you can also nab it from NMA (AtomicGamer), instead.

Meanwhile, here's a bunch of stills from the HD trailer, thanks to radnan.







[url=http://www.nma-fallout.com/forum/dload.php?action=file&file_id=1143]
Link: Fallout 3 Good Life Trailer HD[/url].

In other news, it seems you can call the 1-888-4VAULT-Tec number from the trailer. If you do, you get an automated message going "Welcome to Vault-Tec.. all of our representatives are currently busy.." etc. etc. (thanks whirlingdervish)

News for Monday, July 14, 2008

Posted by radnan - at 23:05

Gametrailers is offering the full Fallout 3 E3 trailer, the first part of which was shown as an intro to the Microsoft press showing we just posted. Here's the full thing:

Link: Fallout 3: Perfect Life trailer on Gametrailers.

Posted by 13pm - at 22:46

Russian gaming mag Igromania's staff were among those who were invited to play Fallout 3 at Bethesda's HQ.

They have recorded a half an hour-long video containing an interview with Todd Howard, Emil Pagliarulo and Gavin Carter and some comments on the hands-on from the guy who played the game. He says they've played a game for 3 hours.

Here are some tidbits from the interview. Remember that it's a double translation (first it was translated into Russian and then I had to translate it back), so there might be some mistakes.

* There will be mines and minefields. Depending on your skill you'll be able to find mines sooner or later before they explode. If your skill is high enough, you'll hear a beeping sound a few seconds before the explosion and will have a chance to run away. If your skill is very high, you'll be able to retrieve mines and then set them where you want to.
* As was already mentioned before, non-conversational skills will provide some dialogue options.
* Sneaking is switched on automatically when you duck. Sneaking is important for pickpocketing.
* You can not only pick pockets, but you can put something into one's pockets too, like explosives or grenades.
* Jet and psycho are in. You can get addicted to them. Addictions are cured by local doctors.
* Random encounter mentioned by Emil: he walked at night and met some homeless man with a brahmin. Emil wanted to shoot at the man, but suddenly some white bear (they called it something like Jaguai; Ausir says it's Yao-Guai) jumped out of the bushes and attacked Emil's character. Emil explained that this bear was a pet of that homeless man.
* Weather is dependent on the area you are in. For example, in Washington, the sky is grey, so the city looks dark. The wasteland is sunny on the other hand. They wanted to recreate the atmosphere of the first Fallout, says Todd.
* They say that all the towns in previous Fallout games looked the same. Bethesda wanted to create towns with their unique souls and they say that each town differs from the others.
* Bethesda's praising the AI of NPCs. Every NPC is doing something like cleaning or walking, they have their own schedules. Bethesda say that it's not that they've changed Oblivion's AI, they just enhanced it with animation.
* They say they wanted to show how hard it is to live in the post-apocalyptic world, so they tried to avoid anything cartoonish.
* The game now is twice as big as they wanted initially.
* Todd Howard: "We're doing the game for the fans. When you look at the first Fallouts you can't say, 'That what's made this game popular.' Those games were great [...] We do not want to simplify things, we are doing a game with a hardcore gameplay. As fans for fans".

And here goes what the guy that played the game tells:

* "I've heard many complaints about that it's not Fallout by the atmosphere [he said it's his personal complaint too], that it looks like Oblivion, that the music is bad. From what I've seen, it's all true."
* But, he says, you'll love this game despite all that. And here are the reasons:
- Multiple ways to solve quests.
- Exploring is really cool, you'll never know what you'll find.
- As for the RPG part of the game - everything is saved from the past games. He says that in Falout 3 your skills really matter. The game is really hardcore and not going into mainstream, in his opinion.
* He also compares the combat system to Mass Effect and says that he loved V.A.T.S., especially when compared to ME. He notes that opponents are dumb, do not run to avoid shots though.
* He says the exploration part reminded him of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
* Characters are well-done in his opinion. He provides some examples: in Megaton, there is boy that cares for a girl that lost her parents. There is also a man that came to Megaton to start a new life (he was a bandit in his past). When you talk to him, it appears that he won't mind returning to his past occupation. He refuses to join the PC because of his good karma. You can come to his house at night and you'll find lots of empty wisky bottles, because he can't cope with his new life.
* Overall, the game looks much better than a year ago.

Posted by Brother None - at 21:12

Todd Howard demo'd Fallout 3 at the Microsoft presentation. G4 offers the gameplay part of it.



If G4 doesn't work, GameTrailers offers a mirror.

There are several people who made notes, like GameSpot, Eurogamer and Engadget.

10: 35 am PT: Prepare for the future, the video tells us. Unfortunately, the future is a nuclear wasteland -- albeit a stunningly rendered one. We see Fallout 3 peering over the devastation and readying his weapon. Todd Howard, Game Director from Bethesda is up. Fallout 3 incorporates everything Bethesda has learned from Oblivion. A live demonstration begins.

10:37 am PT: "You just saw the first half of a trailer that will debut online in just a few hours and on Xbox Live... when we did Oblivion on the 360, we took a lot of risks and learned a lot. We've taken all that learning and applied it to Fallout 3...." Demoing the game, controller disconnected. "I'm good..." A ruined Washington DC is our first sight, with a third-person camera switching to first person as a floating robot whizzes by The PIPboy 3000 is shown (it's on your wrist!) and Todd examines his stats and his "ridiculously violent" weapons

10:39 am PT: You can play stealthily, aggressively and... oh, Todd has gone for the aggressive route. He pulls out a rifle, and targets the body parts of a nearby enemy. He fires a shot, with a slow-mo shaky cam shot showing limbs exploding violently. We're going to like this game. Some cute marching band music plays in the background, rendering a truly surreally violent encounter. Todd switches to a laser rifle and targets the torso of another enemy. Pow, splatter, smile.

10:40 am PT: The world's scale is enormous, with dilapidated strcutures and roads covering the entire field of view. Todd whips out a rocket launcher and wreaks havoc, followed by an EMP grenade which shuts down a robotic baddie.

10:41 am PT: "You can be a good person, a bad person and anyone in-between. A helicopter lands, kicking up dust. The "fatman," a mini nuclear bomb catapult is the response. The camera follows the warhead in slow-mo all the way to its destination. "It's a pretty effective weapon."

Posted by Per - at 14:34

IGN played Fallout 3 at a pre-E3 event.

Before I go on, though, please understand -- calling Fallout 3 one of the most impressive videogames of the year in a season that has already brought us Metal Gear Solid 4 and Grand Theft Auto IV isn't meant to be hyperbole. Even in its unoptimized stage (all the content is there, development is just about polish from now until October), Fallout 3 is still one of the most engaging and playable titles this side of Liberty City... and I've only tested it for about an hour.

Bold proclamations for such a small amount of hands-on time, yes, but words I'll stick behind as a fan on the Elder Scrolls. In fact, Fallout 3 is very much Oblivion in a post-apocalyptic world. So if you didn't like that game, or the series for that matter, then ignore everything I've said thus far and go read something else. If, however, you spent 200+ hours in Cyrodiil like I did, or just love western-style RPGs, then you should keep going -- because your next big adventure is just over the next hill.


There are plenty of cool little details found in the environments as well. Dust is continuously carried by the wind as you traverse the grayish wasteland; tires and other automobile wreckage looks as distinctive and unique as the real thing; and the clothing and appearance of NPCs are not only dissimilar from person to person, but they also say a lot about the personality of the person you're talking to. In other words, Fallout 3 is a beautiful game, and the best part is that it doesn't have anywhere near the pop-in or tearing that Oblivion had.
Words to the effect of "just like Oblivion" are repeated a few more times. There's a confused statement that the game uses "the same action point system found in its predecessors", and it is said that you can "'surrender' to another NPC during combat by holstering your weapon". They also give us a list of perks:
* Daddy's Boy: Gains an additional 5 points in science and medicine skills.
* Gun Nut: Obsessed with guns; an additional 5 points to the small guns skills and repair skills
* Intense Training: Add a single point to any of your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes
* Lady Killer: 10% damage against female opponents, plus unique dialogue with them as well
* Little Leaguer: 5 points of melee weapons and 5 points of explosives skill
* Swift Learner: 10% in total experience points
* Thief: With each rank of Thief Perk you gain an immediate 5 point bonus to sneak and lock-pick
IGN subsidiary GameSpy has another article about the same thing, from where, besides the info that the reporter actually did get hit by the sniper, I'll only quote this funny part:
Called The Enclave, the new government is ruled by President John Henry Eden (voiced by Malcolm McDowell) and its laws are enforced by the powerful Brotherhood of Steel. The metal-clad badasses have taken over the Pentagon and are alerted to your presence by eyebots that should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, our time with Fallout 3 came to an end when a Brotherhood of Steel helicopter dropped off a group of troops right in front of us.
Thanks to Sergei.

Posted by Sander - at 3:28

It appears that Gaming Target has stumbled across the unannounced Fallout 3 E3 website, entitled Prepare for the Future. It currently features new video material consisting mostly of short snippets of 50s-style video footage pertaining to the game, no gameplay footage, though.

Bethesda Softworks' parent company, ZeniMax, has a new website up, an unannounced page for Bethesda's upcoming RPG Fallout 3. The page will almost certainly be announced when E3 starts this week (edit: where our very first appointment on Tuesday is to preview the game), but we bring you the skinny ahead of time.

We managed to find the website during our E3 digging and have confirmed - by doing a WHOIS check on the domain name - that it is registered to ZeniMax Media Inc. As if someone would go through this much trouble for a fake site.

Currently the site is pretty barren, with a place to input your email for future updates ($20 says emails go out on Monday!) and an amazing teaser video.

An interesting fun fact that caught my eye on the site is language selection bar. When one first enters the site you are asked which language to choose. One of the choices available is none other than AUS, or Australia. This is interesting because the game is currently banned downunder for its realistic depiction of drug usage. Perhaps Bethesda is working on an edited version for Australia?

Fallout 3 will be made available in Q4 2008 for PC, 360 and PS3. We will have more as it comes.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:35

Open source RPG engine FIFE has hit its 2008.1 milestone.

Download:
Source package (FreeBSD, Linux, Macintosh)
Win32 binaries

For the 2008.1 release we decided to stick to the tropical island concept and called our example game "Rio de hola".

Caution: this release is still lacking a lot of polish, especially the "Rio de hola" game that ships with it. It lacks almost any form of gameplay but there is a reason why we decided to ship the release in its current form nevertheless. We planned to release future FIFE milestones under the LGPL to offer a less "restrictive" license to possible FIFE users (we know that the term "restrictive" is just our personal point of view).

We had to clear up the legal situation first and fortunately the software freedom law center helped us with the transition. The agreement of all developers who contributed code that was still used in FIFE was needed and because over three dozens of people contributed code to the project, this took us a lot of time. We were not able to reach all of them so we decided to either remove or rewrite the code of the contributors who didn't reply to our license switch proposal mails (from scratch).

We were able to replace the last parts of the problematic code today so now FIFE is officially LGPL'ed software. We're glad that we were able to make this step after it took us so long and we think that the new license alone is worth a release. Therefore we're proud to finally present the first FIFE release that is published under LGPL 2.1 or newer (your choice).

Engine and the editor tool made _huge_ steps forward since the last release about 5 months ago. Therefore we decided to release the current status as stable release although it offers not many new aspects on the content side and the content that is in place is very likely to change with the 2008.2 release.

The milestone itself seems to be a very important step into the right direction. You can build your own maps now with the help of the editor tool. Furthermore a basic application structure is in place that should give you an idea how can create your own FIFE-based game; this release is stable enough to start working on your game now Smile

Most important changes since the 2008.0 release:
* License switch from GPL 2.0 to LGPL 2.1 or newer.
* Improved map format & resource loading (datasets branch).
* Vastly improved editor tool; batch object loading.
* New (work in progress) Rio de hola demo: new maps, graphics, sounds (still unfinished!).
* Eye candy: stepless zoom (OpenGL mode only), instance coloring & outlining.
Link: full announcement on the FIFE developer blog.

Posted by Per - at 1:25

According to this piece from The Escapist, the fact that a game has been Refused Classification doesn't mean it's illegal to import it:

As it turns out, the situation isn't as dire for the Australian crowd as some would paint it: Anyone who wants Fallout 3 is free to order it elsewhere with no risk of penalty. "The main thing to realize is that Fallout 3 hasn't been 'banned' in Australia, it's just been refused classification," Yug [of Australian Gamer] said. "That means retailers here can't sell it (because they can't sell a product without a rating) but it also doesn't make the game illegal. So no jail time for importing games that have been refused classification!"

He predicted that the game will be modified to abide with the Classification board's 15+ rating, but added that if Australian gamers don't want to wait for that, they won't have to. "Basically we can just import the game from another PAL territory (such as the U.K.) and the game will work on our Australian systems, although videogame region coding isn't really an issue for the PC and PS3 versions of the games," he said.
The story also contains some revelations about the attitude of Attorney General Michael Atkinson towards ratings, which however falls a bit outside of our own scope.

To complicate the picture there is also this IGN newspiece explaining that importing the game is illegal:
Also worth noting, for people considering a foreign copy of Fallout 3 on PC and PS3, we have some bad news; you may run into legal issues. The OFLC's guidelines on the importation of games restrict buyers from importing games with drug-related content:
The Classification Board may advise that importation or exportation of items should not be allowed if they:
* in relation to a computer game – are unsuitable for a person under 18 to see or play; or
* promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence; or
* promote or incite the misuse of a drug specified in Schedule 4.
Like importing any other banned game or film, you take the legal ramifications of the process into your own hands. Don't say we didn't warn you.
We're waiting for a decisive answer, but for now, if you're caught in customs don't try the "NMA told me it was OK" line.

Thanks to URAGR8M8 for bringing this up.

Also, this has been mentioned elsewhere, it is possible to complain directly to the Australian classification board about this decision and/or their standards in general. We encourage people to do so, as this kind of censorship can only hurt the gaming industry.

News for Sunday, July 13, 2008

Posted by Per - at 19:31

UK magazine Xbox World 360 has an 8-page Fallout feature in their latest issue. Like CD-Action and others they've been allowed to play the game for a bit, and they are quite impressed. Some excerpts:

Who among us knows Oblivion as The Elder Scrolls IV or Morrowind as The Elder Scrolls III? Why Fallout 3 came to be so boldy named is a question Bethesda answer in very different ways depending on who you ask. Marketing man Pete Hines explains how Bethesda "Don't want to make a side story or be seen as something different; we're making a true sequel to Fallout 2, set in the same timeline and the same universe." Fallout 3's director Todd Howard's approach is more pragmatic: "People ask us 'Why Fallout?' and we say 'It's cool! It'll always be cool! Who cares if it's ten years old! It's great!'"

Fallout 3's nuts and bolts were something of a mystery, but it's a mystery you'll solve the instant you lay thumbs on the sticks. Fallout 3 is a true Fallout game, with all the wit, character and themes of the old games: more than that, Fallout 3 is Oblivion 2. Even with the post-apocalyptic trappings it feels like Oblivion - same engine, controls, freedom, and sense of place.

A century after the first Vaults opened, America is a land of mutated animals and irradiated freaks; where the dungeons you know from Oblivion appear as sewers, office blocks, malls and schools; where handfuls of survivors have built new civilisations from the ruins and where Malcolm MacDowell is John Henry Eden - the self-appointed President of the USA and leader of the Enclave, a group of genocidal elitists returning from Fallout 2.
The matter of combat is given some emphasis:
"You can definitely play it just as an FPS if that's your thing, though it's certainly going to be a lot harder," says Todd, describing how the VATS systems fits in. "We've had a focus test to see how well our tutorials were working, and in the initial run-through we forgot to tutorial VATS. People were playing without even knowing it existed and they just played it as a first-person shooter. That's reassuring."

"The initial design for VATS was the following pitch I made to people: "I don't know how it starts, but the end of it looks like Burnout's Crash Mode, but with body parts," Todd explains, with a gigantic grin. "We wanted them to be able to go into a room and go boom, boom, boom, boom and see views of their character blowing guys away from crazy angles."

Even before building the world and characters, the very first build of the game was named the Guns Build, built to make sure guns felt heavy and powerful. Then followed the Destruction Build to work out what happens when bullets hit things and people. Finally came a dedicated Combat Build, where the dummies from the destruction build fought back.

Even once the guns were suitably beefed up and noisy, the team faced tough decisions about just how much the RPG-levelling elements should play into the action. As Todd explains, "We struggled for a long time with how shooting would work in a role-playing game. How good am I at shooting and how good is the guy on the screen at shooting?" Bethesda settled on a system where your level considerably affects damage but only marginally affects accuracy. At low levels your bullet spread is larger than you'd find in a regular first-person shoot-'em-up, but as you grow, your accuracy will sharpen and your death-dealing power will increase.

Fallout 3 is about the little details, and they're everywhere. While much of Oblivion was generated procedurally using software designed to create a credible landscape, Bethesda's follow-up is a genuinely hand-made game, where every burned book, ruined home, and story told by the ruins themselves was carefully designed, as Istvan explains: "The art team went cell-by-cell. There's not a single piece of the game that hasn't been touched by hand. It's not procedurally generated - we didn't want to do that this time. Every rock you see, every tree, was placed by hand."
And in conclusion:
Accept no lies, Fallout 3 is too grand a project for us or any other games magazine to have fully understood in just a few hours' play. Three hours later and it's a world and a game we can paint only in the broadest strokes, but they're more than enough to sell it - Fallout 3 is a true follow-up to Oblivion, denser, grander, smarter and better. Better still Fallout 3 is Fallout Three - a long overdue chapter in a long-ignored series, indisputably made by the right men for the job.
Some additional short notes:

* Emil on purpose: "What we're careful about is making sure players know that they do have a goal - to find Dad. [...] we took a lot of steps to channel players who want to be channelled."
* If you defuse the bomb in Megaton you are rewarded with a shack, "which like all your future homes can be themed in different ways - pre-war, Mr Loverman, and Vault themes can be bought at the local supply store".
* One source of quests is a store owner in Megaton working on a wasteland field guide, who wants you to help fill in the blanks in various ways.
* You'll find the Stealth Boy early in the game.
* There'll be enemy snipers.
* An example of bleak humour: one house contains two skeletons hugging each other on a burnt-out carpet, a couple who died when the bombs fell.
* The writer thinks the reduction of level scaling is the "tiny change" that sets Fallout 3 above Oblivion: "The world is a scarier place without the world-levelling safety net."
* Raiders are observed "clearly thinking and plotting before rushing into combat". Enemies will make good use of cover, according to Todd, except if they're too badass to take cover like the super mutants.
* The yellow, even "banana-coloured" super mutants go around kidnapping humans.
* A few hours of playing only covers about 1% of the game world.
* Another example of bleak humour: in an unopened post box you can find a letter informing the receiver they weren't selected for the vault programme.
* The Enclave have "floating propaganda bots" in addition to their radio station to get their "message" out.
* You can pick up a radio transmission with a "Chinese voice reporting that America has fallen and for civilians to surrender."
* A few new perks: "At low levels Ladykiller will make you more effective against female adversaires; Black Widow is the female's equivalent. Little Leaguer will make you a big-hitting slugger with your bat."
* On the lockpicking minigame: "Using the right stick you'll apply torque to the lock while angling the pick with the left; too much torque on a misplaced pin and it'll snap. It's a game of delicate movements, and isn't a frustrating chore like Oblivion."
* Pete on the fact that the compass will point the way to unknown locations: "It's our way of saying 'there's fun over here'."
* There will be Squirrels-on-a-stick. Like all other food, they are radioactive.
* The first mêlée weapon is a baseball bat, the most powerful the power fist.

Many thanks to Stubs.

News for Saturday, July 12, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 14:16

Ratman gave us the heads up and there it is: something new about Fallout 1.5: Resurrection.

As you may have read in our FAQ, Resurrection will bring new perks, which you couldn’t have seen in the original Fallout 2. When we were trying to think of the new perks, we realized that practically every aspect of the character development had some kind of a perk to go with it. There was almost no room for anything new that wouldn’t be merely a variation of the original. Nonetheless we did manage to squeeze in a few more new perks and thought of some interesting combinations. We often got inspired by perks from Fallout Tactics, but you’ll find some brand new and original ones too. With those, it will be best if you discover them yourself whilst playing. We’re not gonna reveal the exact number of perks at this point anyway. Thought we decided to at least show you two perks based on those from Fallout Tactics. In the Gallery, you can now find a picture with the descriptions of perks “Leader” and “Loner”.

Several times we were asked about music in Resurrection. The answer is such that we’re mostly going to use tunes from the first two Fallouts. Such quality music creating the right atmosphere should not be wasted. However for a few locations in our game we didn’t find any of the original tracks appropriate, which is why I’m glad that already for some time new music is handled by Emitremmus, whom I’m now officially welcoming to our team. Through his website http://www.takusama.com you can listen to his work, inspired among others also by computer games, including Fallout.
Link: Perks and Music @ Fallout 1.5: Resurrection

Posted by 13pm - at 11:42

As you may have noticed, Bethesda has started a new wave of hype because of E3. Today they released a new Fallout 3 teaser for E3. It is now available at Gametrailers.
It's quite short and might remind you of something you've already seen before.

Thanks to Bodybag, Yellow, Jabu and Briosafreak.

For HD quality look here (Thanks Morpheus).

News for Friday, July 11, 2008

Posted by 13pm - at 17:12

Bethesda has just announced that they are sponsoring a post-apocalyptic film festival. From press release:

July 11, 2008 (Rockville, MD) – Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax Media company, announced today that it has partnered with the American Cinematheque and Geek Monthly magazine to sponsor ‘A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout® 3’ at Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre this August.

Fallout 3, the highly-anticipated video game from Bethesda Softworks, takes place in a post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. where every minute is a fight for survival in the formidable wasteland and serves as the festival’s inspiration. The festival will feature six definitive post-apocalyptic movies that depict life or events that occur after a global catastrophe.

‘A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout 3’ kicks off at 7:00pm on Friday, August 22nd with ‘Wizards’ (Directed by Ralph Bakshi) followed by ‘Damnation Alley’ (Directed by Jack Smight) and ‘A Boy and His Dog’ (Directed by L.Q. Jones). The festival resumes at 7:00pm on August 23rd with ‘The Last Man on Earth’ (Directed by Ubaldo Ragona), ‘The Omega Man’ (Directed by Boris Sagal) and ‘Twelve Monkeys’ (Directed by Terry Gilliam).

“We are very excited to sponsor this film festival with the American Cinematheque and Geek Monthly magazine as this event brings together fans of film and video games like never before,” said Vlatko Andonov, president of Bethesda Softworks. “This is an exciting time for us and this film festival gives us a fun platform to give people further insight into Fallout 3.”
The tickets will be available at Fandango.com and will cost $10. Ticket includes three movies, as well as "Fallout 3 giveaway".

Link: Fallout 3 Film Festival Press Release

Posted by Per - at 1:27

In September, Polish developer and publisher CD Projekt will be starting up a new service for purchasing games online, Good Old Games. The idea is to allow people to download vintage PC games without copy protection in a price range of $6-10. How is this of interest to us? Well, to begin with, as Interplay's back catalogue is included in the first batch of games to be made available, Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics feature prominently on the teaser page. Secondly, the games have purportedly been rigged to work flawlessly on Windows XP and Vista, a feat which according to Shacknews has been done with access to the games' source code. No reason in particular for modders to cheer over that, perhaps, but at least it seems the Fallout code is no longer lost in a cardboard box stamped with "Interplay" somewhere. And finally, if the list of games they aim to get on the site is any indication (e.g. Sacrifice, Jagged Alliance 2 and the old Lucasarts adventure games), the people at CD Projekt simply have good taste.

Update: no source code involved.

Thanks Atombunker.

Posted by 13pm - at 0:25

So it looks like we'll see a demo. From Bethblog:

If you’re waiting for your chance to see Fallout 3 in action, G4’s got you covered on Monday. Beginning at 7PM (Eastern Time), they’ll be airing a two-hour E3 Preview Show featuring a Fallout 3 demo from Todd Howard. For more details on G4’s E3 schedule, head here.
Thanks Yellow

Link: Fallout 3 demo Monday on G4 at Bethblog
Link: G4 Schedule

News for Thursday, July 10, 2008

Posted by Per - at 19:25

On Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog you will find this interview with game designer Chris Avellone, transcribed from an issue of the Portuguese magazine BGamer. The man talks a little about getting into the industry, making games, and looking back on his achievements. Of course, Fallout 2 gets mentioned a number of times.

If you could go back in time and change anything in one of your games, what would it be?

I’d probably drop a planet out of Knights of the Old Republic 2 to make the game shorter and more polished. In Fallout 2, I’d probably have dropped one of the crime families in New Reno for the same reason - the raider cave in Fallout 2 didn’t get as much love as New Reno did just because New Reno was so big.

What, for you, makes a good story?

Providing the player with interesting companions and characters who react to the player’s actions I think is more important than a linear storyline. In most cases, I feel the best way is to allow the player the pieces to build a story in their own mind as opposed to forcing a storyline on the player. If you give the player a great villain and some companions that serve as good sounding boards for the player’s actions, that can present a far more effective gaming story in the long run - players would prefer to explain to others how their character dealt with a certain situation or dealt with a certain NPC rather than have the exact same experience that was imposed on them as someone else who played the same title.

Also, one aspect to a good story (in games), is that the game needs to end and achieve some sort of resolution. Obviously, single-player RPGs hold the monopoly in this, but this is something I think MMOs have the potential to solve depending on how they structure their quest and story mechanics.

You have worked in some of the best RPG ever made. What, in your opinion, are the crucial elements for a good game of this genre?

Aside from the ability to advance your character, player choice (whether in character development or quest resolution) and world and character reactivity to these player’s choices is key.

Players want to build the character they envision, and then they want to push buttons in the world and see the world give them positive (or negative) feedback that is unique to their character - it makes them feel that they are having a direct impact on their environment based on their specific choices. In addition, the more specific you can make the reactivity to the player’s character creation choices (Fallout 1 and 2 did a fantastic job of this, in my opinion), the better. The more a stealth character is given consistent rewards and feedback on their chosen skills and using those skills to solve quests, for example, the more they feel their character choices and their character’s skills truly matter.
There's more, so head over to read the whole thing.

Link: Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog

Posted by Per - at 4:43

Australian Gamer has managed to get hold of the board report that resulted in Fallout 3 being refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. It turns out that the drugs in the game are, as speculated, what's behind the decision. From the report:

The game contains the option to take a variety of "chems" using a device which is connected to the character's arm. Upon selection of the device a menu selection screen is displayed. Upon this screen is a list of "chems" that the player can take, by means of selection. These "chems" have positive effects and some negative effects (lowering of intelligence, or the character may become addicted to the "chem"). The positive effects include increase in strength, stamina, resistance to damage, agility and hit points. Corresponding with the list of various "chems" are small visual representation of the drugs, these include syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs. In the Board's view these realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method bring the "science-fiction" drugs in line with "real-world" drugs.

The Guidelines also state that "Material promoting or encouraging proscibed [sic] drug use" is Refused Classification.

The player can also select and use "Morphine" (a proscribed drug) which has the positive effect of enabling the character to ignore limb pain when the character's extremities are targeted by the enemy.

The Authorised Assessor's report also states that "chems are an essential part of Fallout 3, and the player will likely use a variety of them throughout the game".

In the Board's view the drug use in particular the use of a proscribed drug, via means of selection from a menu, is related to incentives and rewards as the incentive to take the drug is to progress through the game more easily and the reward is an increase in the character's abilities and as such is Refused Classification.

[...]

The Board notes that the violence throughout the game could be accommodated at an MA 15+ level of classification.
I learned something today: the Classification Board really don't like you to select things, especially not from a selection. Of course, news sites such as Kotaku have not been slow in pointing out the gross inconsistency in the verdict.

Link: Fallout 3 - OFLC documents @ Australian Gamer
Link: OFLC Report: Why Fallout 3 Was Banned In Australia @ Kotaku

Posted by Per - at 0:27

The Bethesda Blog rolls a few newsbits into one, including upcoming magazine coverage:

Subscribers of PC Gamer (US) should be on the lookout for the August issue in their mailbox in the next few days. The Fallout 3 cover story spans seven pages and includes hands-on impressions from Fallout fan Dan Stapleton, new screenshots, and more.
Furthermore there's a link to a three-page article on The Escapist on world building in games. An excerpt:
Oblivion Lead Designer Emil Pagliarulo believes that we have delivered the promise of virtual reality that was often discussed and hyped in the '90s. Through first-person visuals, realistic physics and simulated time and weather, game developers have brought about the visions of immersive VR, but without the bulky headgear and excessive wires.

When you play an MMOG, a game like Oblivion or Bethesda's current big project, Fallout 3, "you're not controlling that character, you are that character," Pagliarulo says. "You get a sense of control over the world that you can't find anywhere else."

A fellow Bethesda world-builder, Executive Producer Todd Howard, describes these virtual worlds as existing in two layers, the believable world and the game world.

"The allure [of the believable world] is that players can imprint themselves," Howard says. "Players think 'I want to be this person, I want to do this thing!' and it's our job to fulfill as many of those ideas as possible."

To do that job, Howard believes in one principle above all others: "Great games are played, not made." He explains that if you don't approach the development of games as a gamer, then you're all about the process and not the product. "It's pure entertainment you can tweak. You have to know constantly 'What's the vibe? What does it feel like?' in order to tweak the story and the world and get them to highlight each other. ... And the simpler everything is, the better it all works together."
Finally there is mention of Fallout 3 appearing on yet another "most anticipated" list for E3. We've been giving those a pass as largely pointless, but if anyone cares, Games Trailer joins IGN and Next Generation in looking forward to Fallout 3 pretty much more than any other game at E3 (with the caveat that it "must not already have been completely over-exposed").

News for Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Posted by Per - at 21:47

The latest Inside the Vault instalment on the Bethblog tells all about world artist Tony Greco except whether he's played Fallout.

During development, Tony’s test cells are among the best to visit. He makes lots of cool unique items and you can find them all in his test areas — you know, the amazing stuff that you get as rewards for quests or after fighting a tough boss or [Fallout 3 stuffs we can't talk about], imagine all that awesome loot in one place. Hmmm….

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m a World Artist that mostly specializes in clutter meshes. It’s my job to make the game-spaces not look empty and to give you a reason to check out what’s on the kitchen table. It’s my job to make those sweet rolls look extra tasty. Mmm…sweet rolls.

[...]

The worst part about my job? Well, I guess it’s the fact that I could care less about graphics in games. It’s the least essential part to what makes games entertaining and fun. It’s all about the conceptual construction, design integrity and the fundamentals (gameplay) to me. I’d rather play a text-only game that’s well put together, thoroughly conceived, fun and thoughtful.
Psst, Tony - try Wasteland!

Posted by Sander - at 13:41

Kotaku reports that Fallout 3 has been banned in Australia.
As shown on the Classification Board's website, Fallout 3 was refused classification, being given the RC rating. This means that Fallout 3 is banned for sale, hire, public exhibition or importation into Australia, carrying a maximum fine of $275,000 and/or 10 years jail.

EDIT: it appear we were wrong on the count of importation, ref here.

News for Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Posted by Per - at 20:44

According to this GamePlasma newsbit, American TV channel Spike will show a bunch of E3 sneak previews, starting this Friday with some game trailers and demos, including Fallout 3:

SpikeTV and GameTrailers have announced that they have teamed up to provide gamers with "E3 Invasion." E3 Invasion will be a week along and have both online and on-air high-definition programming. According to SpikeTV and GameTrailers, they will also have "blockbuster world exclusives that will air before E3 even opens to the media." According to the press release, these world exclusives will include "Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Prince Of Persia, Resistance 2, Rock Band 2, The Next Game From BioWare, UFC 2009 Undisputed And Many More Surprises"
Perhaps Yuropeans will be able to catch a few snippets on the web if they are so inclined.

Thanks Ausir.

Posted by Per - at 18:27

I'm going to let Ausir dictate all the news from now on.

The Polish CD-Action magazine was invited to Bethesda headquarters for a hands-on preview of Fallout 3 as the only representative of Poland, along with 15 other journalists from around the world. A summary:

* As far as locations and content go, the game is finished. Bethesda is mostly doing QA now. There are still some bugs and the game crashes from time to time.
* They had a predefined character - a strong male.
* They were told to steer clear of the main quest and were not allowed to talk about what they saw of it in the preview.
* To make escape from Vault 101 easier, guards were removed.
* The game can be saved at any moment, and saving is pretty quick.
* We leave the Vault with a PipBoy, a pistol, some ammo and a holotape with a message from the father.
* Ammo is scarce and it's best to fight weaker opponents hand to hand.
* They go to Megaton by following a sign in Springvale showing the way to the town.
* In Springvale, the Sputnik Eyebot was hovering over the street, broadcasting a speech of the Enclave president.
* Megaton looks like a Wild West town. We have a good sheriff, and an evil saloon owner. The saloon has a prostitute, but she tells the player character that he's too young to use her services.
* We are informed that our Karma has changed after the fact. We also don't see any numbers - we just see e.g. a Vault Boy with angel wings and a "Saint" description. The developers intentionally hid the numerical value of your Karma.
* If we are caught trying to steal something, the person we tried to rob will first chase us, trying to recover his property. He won't be happy, but usually it won't end with a shootout, unless we already have a bad reputation. Well, it was enough to cause some trouble in Megaton for everyone to turn against us. What then? We can try putting our weapon down - if we didn't kill anyone, the situation will calm down.
* If we, however, do have blood on our hands already, the best way out is to quickly evacuate. Fortunately, a return is possible. After a few days the emotions drop down, and entering the town does not end with bloodshed. But still, people will know about our deeds and if we cause trouble again, they won't give us the benefit of a doubt this time.
* At first glance, it looked like they'd wander around aimlessly. But only at first glance, thanks to the compass. Directions where we can find something interesting are marked with little triangles. We'll learn what it is when we get there (it can be a school taken over by bandits, a cinema with car wrecks, a baseball pitch with dead bodies hanging from the fence, a small settlement at an overpass or a normal town). The compass can also show the place where we have a quest to do or a navigation point we put on the map ourselves.
* At first glance, Fallout 3 looks like a typical FPS.
* You use stimpaks on specific parts of the body, as hit points are divided among them.
* When throwing grenades and during hand-to-hand combat, while you can use V.A.T.S., you can't aim at specific parts of the body.
* Choice of gender has been marginalized and its importance will be minimal.
* Lots of blood and profanity.
* Body parts can be disintegrated or vaporized, depending on the weapon.
* The PC version has the same interface as the X360 one, but adjusted to the use of mouse and keyboard. It works much better than Oblivion's. Both the PipBoy and the V.A.T.S. work well with the mouse.
* You can assign hotkeys to items - e.g. weapons or stimpaks.
* Even with standard settings, the game looks better on the PC than on the 360 - better textures and longer line of sight.
* The lockpicking minigame is similar to the one from the Thief games.

Conclusion: "Is it Fallout? If you expect the same experience as before, it's safer to just play the previous games. But if you just want the brutal, post nuclear world, freedom and atmosphere, what I was shown is no worse than in the first Fallout. And it's the best recommendation I can give after a few hours of playing."

The accompanying screenshots are mostly the same as in the PSM3 article. The only one I think is new is a female raider in V.A.T.S. The rest are Fusion Flea Supreme; a roughly humanoid robot (in the bottom right of the robot concept art) with guns for arms, wheels for feet and a star on its chest; the Vertibird; and some others we've seen dozens of times before.

Posted by Sander - at 1:01

Bethesda has posted Fan Interview #2 in which fan questions have been selected and answered, amongst other things confirming that children will not be killable, traits have been merged with perks, and intelligent and recruitable non-human NPCs exist. Along with a total of 25 questions and answers, three new pictures were released:


The most important snippets from the interview:
2) Are children and otherwise non essential or non-quest related NPC's vulnerable or invulnerable to accidental or purposeful (deadly) harm? And how about quest essential people? Please elaborate as much as you can, especially on why you choose to do it that way.

You will not be able to be a child killer. There are several reasons for this, some of them are very basic, like we wouldn't be able to sell the game, anywhere to anyone, if the children could be killed. I'm not using that as a scapegoat. We never wanted the game to offer any incentive or desire to be blowing kids away, so from our initial designs, we didn't know how we were going to handle if you shot them, we just knew it was going to be a big no-no, especially with a system like VATS and the graphic fidelity the gore has. Anyway, when attacked, all children flee and any regular NPCs friendly to the children will instantly attack you, so it feels good in the game, in that there is an appropriate response.

In regards to essential NPCs, it works like Oblivion, in that when they "die" they get knocked "unconscious" and get up a little while later. It worked well in Oblivion, so we kept that system, as you can still attack everyone that you want, and get at least a small benefit (being able to avoid them while they are down). I will say that the number of essential characters is minute compared to Oblivion and we've gone to pretty big lengths to cover a lot of people's deaths, but sometimes that's just not possible.

4) Are most of the non-human entities in the game of hostile intent, or can some be reasoned with, or even recruited as companions under the right circumstances?

Most are hostile, but not all. Yes, some can be reasoned with and even hired.

7) What can you tell us about the way Armor works, will it come as a full set or as parts, and how will it influence perception? Will there be a special HUD when wearing it?

It comes as two parts, the body part and the helmet. So you can mix and match. And then you can also put on things like glasses and other items. Different outfits also come with different stat boosts sometimes, and do more then basic "damage resistance". Like mechanic's coveralls that boost your repair skill, that kind of thing. We wanted a reason that you might wear clothes as well as armor. There's a merchant's outfit that ups your Barter skill for instance.

9) Will the PC version of the game include some sort of SDK or level editor like Elder Scrolls games have? If not, might one become available via download in the future? And how about the console versions, what have you done to give them the same options PC players have?

It will definitely not be included on the disk. If and when one is available, it will be a free download. I wish I could promise that an editor will be coming and when, but I can't.

11. How common are the 'Dungeon' areas, and do they play a part in the main story, or are they isolated side quests of their own with little bearing on the outside world. And regarding the creatures inside the dungeons, do they re-spawn or can players clear the area permanently?

They are common, and play a part throughout the game, whether that's the main quest, side quests or just exploring. To even get to downtown DC you're going to have to go through some metro tunnels. And then when you are downtown, the whole thing is like one giant "dungeon". Any structure of size, an office building, destroyed factory, school, hospital, you name it – we use all of these as "dungeons".

15) How will the real-time combat skills work? Will the chance of missing be larger as the skill is lower, or does it affect the amount of damage done? Or will this be featured in weapons swaying and/or recoil compensation?

The skill affects both how well you aim (your hand wobbles on screen), and how much damage you do with a shot. Over the course of the project, we really dialed back the skill wobble, and dialed up the damage effect. It's really not fun to miss all the time, it just made the game feel terrible. You can also "aim", like many shooters. You use the right mouse button, or left trigger on a console, and your character aims at the target. You can't run while you are aiming, but it negates most of the skill wobble. Not all of it, but enough to compensate for a really bad skill. What you find is, as your skill raises, you don't have to rely on aiming as much, so it's a good balance.
And finally, traits and perks have been merged. Interestingly, the explanation of the reasoning behind this ignores the issue that perks were purely positive, while traits had negative side-effects:
Ok, time for some, perhaps, bad news. Traits have been rolled into Perks. That was a hard decision for us, and one that took, literally, years. We kept coming back to it, and re-discussing it, and once we were playing the game, found that the difference between the two systems was so similar that even half the entries in the community "design a perk" contest were actually traits. Take "Bloody Mess" for example, probably the most famous trait. Is the game really more fun if that can only be taken at the very start? Why can't you pick it at level 6? What's so important about having it only at the start? The perk choice is probably one of the most fun parts of the game, and to relegate certain ones to only be chosen when you first start, before you've even played the game and know how any of it feels, just didn't prove as fun to us. How do you know you want Bloody Mess if you haven't seen how bloody the current mess is? (did I just type that?) Anyway, trust me when I say this one was a debate, a long one, and a decision we're not naive enough to think will be understood or applauded by everyone.

Anyway, many traits from Fallout return, but as perks. And many perks return, as perks. Another change over the last year is that you now pick a perk every time you level, and the perks have been balanced accordingly. Like I said before, we found the level-up-pick-a-perk experience to be so enjoyable, it was actually confusing people why they couldn't do it every level. Perks also still have prerequisites for certain stats, including your level. New perks open up at even levels, so while you still get to pick a perk at the odd levels, you won't see any new ones based on your level, but may see a new one based on say, your Science skill.

The good news is that there are a ton of perks, around 100 if you include the multiple ranks. And with a level cap of 20, you still have only 19 times you get to pick one, so you need at least 5 playthroughs of the game to use them all. It was important to us with all of this, that the choices were hard for the player, no matter what the skills/traits/perks were, and that you couldn't see it all the first time through.
There are more bits of info, but we can't put them all here. So go read it!

Link: Bethesda's Fan Interview #2

Thanks Ausir.

News for Monday, July 7, 2008

Posted by Per - at 20:36

I'll just let Ausir take the stage on this one:

The July issue of the Polish PSX Extreme magazine has a Fallout 3 preview, based on the same London demo as all other recent previews in Polish press. While the previewer (Bartosz "Zax" Dawidowski) is completely sold on Bethesda hype ("Fallout 3 will ensure an unprecedented level of immersion in a virtual world. And it will do it with such class that it can be rated pretty much only in comparison to itself"), he is also fairly competent when it comes to Fallout and Fallout 2.

Aside from the preview itself, there is a frame about the Polish Bethesda concept artist Adam Adamowicz, and a short interview with Pete Hines. Some interesting bits:

* At age 16 we select our perks [Note: he probably means traits, unless they were merged with perks] - e.g. Bloody Mess or Good Speaker. Pete didn't want to say what the rest of the perks will be.
* No word on whether children will be killable - when asked, Pete was evasive.
* No romances.
* The enemies are the most frightening in the history of RPGs and the game can be treated as a survival horror.
* We will often have problems with lack of clean water or food. The Geiger counter will sound pretty often. Hines says that when he plays the alpha at home, he is pretty much never fully healed - he's always either wounded or radiated.
* Eating food is not mandatory, but food increases your HP. However, you should look out for radiated food. Sometimes you will have to wonder whether you should eat radiated food, even with low HP, since the consequences of radiation are even worse.
* Radiation is a much bigger problem in FO3 than in previous games. It drastically decreases your combat abilities, and can even lower your skills permanently.
* Destructability of the environment will be unprecedented for RPGs.
* There will be around 50 different weapons.
* While we'll be able to find e.g. Power Armors early on, they will be in pretty bad condition (low CND bar) and will require extensive repairs or will get broken quickly.
* The role of Charisma is lower than in previous games, Fallout 3 relies on combat much more than FO1 and FO2. However, we'll be able to use stealth throughout most of the game.
* Many weapons can be constructed based on schematics.
* If you have your weapon on your shoulder, you can run and the NPCs are not aggressive. If you equip it, you can only walk.
* Jumping has no influence on the combat system, it's just for avoiding some obstacles.
* Enemies will not adjust their levels to that of the player. If you come to a certain place when your level is too low, you're expected to die.
* There is no gambling, you cannot participate in slaver raids nor guard caravans.
* No locations are randomly generated. However, depending on which way you'll head, some scripted events will appear there, e.g. you will encounter Dogmeat early on regardless of where you go.

Posted by Per - at 18:11

After some people went batty with speculation over the PSM3 article, Emil Pagliarulo posted in the BGSF to say that:

I'd like to confirm that Speech is, in fact, the skill missing from that list.

The radio disc jockey's name is "Three Dog," not "Three Dawg." Not sure where that spelling came from, but he's very much NOT a hip-hop D.J.

No, [deathclaws are] not [mutated grizzly bears]. Heh.
OMG HE DID NOT DISAVOW ROBO HORSE but there is a hint of non-violent super mutant interaction.

Thanks Ausir.

Posted by Morbus - at 12:11

There's a new thread along with a few new screenshots over at Iron Tower Studio Forum. This time around, ti's the Maadoran Arena that's on display:

This is the Maadoran Arena, where fighters die for a chance to make a few coins, providing cheap entertainment for the locals.

We'd like to know your opinion about this building. We had some poly count limit issues and had to work around them. I think that the best that we can do, but we'd like to know what you think.


Link: Location: Maadoran Arena @ ITS Forum

News for Sunday, July 6, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 3:34

So, the first hands-on preview of Fallout 3 is generally available, and it's big. Quite a bit of it is repeating info from previous demos and explaining what the Fallout franchise is, but there's more than just that. Some bits:

- The previewer played Fallout 3 for 3 hours and could do whatever he wanted, rather than being set on a linear demo
- Springvale appears deserted, but "the school holds an intriguing secret in its basement"
- "If you cause a ruckus near an Enclave-controlled area, these Vertibirds in and drop off reinforcements"
- "Bethesda have stated Fallout 3 has no vehicles. But evidence leads us to think there'll be a robot horse. Madness? Well, when the game loads, retro '50s-style adverts cycle past for things in the game. 'Giddyup buttercup', a robot pony for little girls. "He neighs, he trots, he loves you a lot!" says the ad. Such a huge game without any transport? Really?"
- "This one is called Galaxy News, presented by a DJ called Three Dawg and broadcast from a secure bunker in the heart of DC. Dawg reports on current events between records."
- "You’ll also come across the Enclave; the remains of the US government who have access to incredible technology and broadcast patriotic marching band music. Their President is voiced by Malcolm “A Clockwork Orange” McDowell. He’s a major villain."
- They list a few skills: barter, big guns, energy weapons, explosives, lockpick, medicine (determines how many points stimpaks and other healing items actually heal) melee combat, repair (description only lists its usage for repairing guns), science, small guns, sneak, unarmed.
- "We left Megaton, chose a random direction (west) and walked. And it didn't take long to find paying work. Bigtown used to be a sprawl of suburban housing, but now it's a makeshift fortress. Walls made of debris, car shells and a single, pathetic guard watches over the entrance with a rusting hunting rifle. Inside we learn that the Supermutants - giant, violent monsters spawned from the fallout of the nuclear war - have kidnapped some of their people, including a vital medic. We agree to rescue them, but only in exchange for bottle caps, Fallout's bizarre currency. The Supermutants, we learn, have set up a camp in a place called Germantown."
- "Say you have five Action Points, you could fire at their head five times, or disable them by shooting at their legs. You can even aim for their gun and disarm them. When you've cued up your attacks, press X and the game unpauses and switches to third-person view for a better view of the action. (...)
We take the mutants down with our shotgun - a few point-blank blasts to the chest did the job - and continue onwards, fighting our way through the enemy's defences until we reach the police station. Inside, it's Fallout's version of an RPG 'dungeon' - loot to hoard, keys to find and enemies to kill. We snuck through the station using stealth (crouch to hide yourself in shadows) and used VATS with melee weapons (police baton, sledgehammer) behind enemies to quickly and quietly dispose of them."
- "In fact, at times it feels exactly like Oblivion in terms of mission structure and the way you navigate the world. We loved Oblivion so we aren't complaining, but if you found Cyrodiil's vast openness daunting or the RPG mechanics too complicated, Fallout 3 might not be the game for you. Especially since the game is ten times as customisable. You can create new weapons from scratch by scavenging for parts. For example, find an old leaf blower, combine it with a lawnmower blade and another few items and you create your own portable rocket launcher that's able to fire any object you see in the world at high speeds; almost like a retro-fit Half-Life gravity gun." [note: this is the same as Arcanum's system of schematics, so it's not "customising" in the traditional sense]
- "We find an elementary school crawling with raiders who've been trying to tunnel into Vault 101, but have failed after disturbing a nest of giant radioactive ants. We find an old sentry bot lying in a junk pile and manage to activate it, after which it becomes our personal body guard...until a Deathclaw - a monster mutated from a grizzle bear - tears it to pieces, then kills us. Later, in a moment of madness, we wander into the heart of DC, despite warnings from the developers, and get vaporized by a remote sentry gun and a gang on Enclave soldiers."
- [Todd Howard loads up a game 70 hours in] "He was in the heart of DC and fought a group of Enclave troopers with a portable nuclear missile launcher called the Fat Man - the game's most powerful weapon."
Thanks AtomicGarden.

News for Saturday, July 5, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 0:12

IGN AU has interviewed Pete Hines about Fallout 3 and asked quite a few interesting questions.

IGN AU: What did you learn from making Oblivion? What didn't work?

Pete Hines: There's no giant 'we can't ever do that again' stuff. It's more how do we design quests, what kind of choices do we let the player make, how do we account for things we think the player might try and do and anticipate those? So that they're like 'Oh, I wonder what happens when I do this?' And then there's actually something in the game that acknowledges it and takes it into account. And they go 'that's really cool that I got to finish this quest in a really unique way and the game recognised that and gave me a satisfying response.'

In Oblivion the most extreme example is the bandits, who's armour keeps going up and up as you're playing through the game. Suddenly they've got glass armour and amazing weapons. It was an obvious thing that didn't feel right. So we've spent a lot of time on making sure that the player has the ability to go where they want and do what they want, but to also provide them with situations where they're getting in over their head – so they've got to leave and come back. Or they're getting into situations where they're further through the game and their character is really tough and they get in there and they kick ass and feel like a bad ass for a while because they've spent a lot of time buffing up their character.

We've certainly tried to put more stuff on the screen in front of the player to make the world more believable. The dialogue is much more specific to those characters, as opposed to generic lists of things they can talk about. A lot of it is just tweaking and refining stuff that the player won't even notice. Stuff that we're doing behind the scenes to improve the way the game performs. A lot of it is taking those lessons and learning how to apply them better.

You know, Fallout is a very different game [to Oblivion]. You've gone from swords and melee weapons and one ranged weapon to now where you've got lots and lots of ranged weapons. It almost flips the gameplay balance stuff.
(...)
IGN AU: How do the choices you make about whether you play as a good guy or a bad guy affect the game?

Pete Hines: I don't think there are enormous differences. It's more the choices you make on a quest by quest basis. Whether or not you want to play them as a good guy or a bad guy and what the end result of that choice is. So it's not so much about people not talking to you because you're a bad guy with bad karma, as much as it is about using the karma to keep track and keep score on the kind of character you're playing. We want that reward and that payoff to be more in the choices you make and have it be more immediate. 'I'm playing this quest. I chose this path to try and finish the quest this way and how fun or interesting or rewarding was that experience based on the choices I made.' Or if you're playing as an evil bastard we want you to feel like the quest played out in a really satisfying way for me trying to be an evil bastard…

IGN AU: Tell us a little about how health system being tied to water levels has evolved in Fallout 3.

Pete Hines: It certainly plays off the original games where water was a big focal point - a theme. We've continued on that legacy. Water is a big, important resource in this world. Where you get it and what kind of radiation you take from it and what kind of health you draw from it.

We're playing up this idea that you're in this post apocalyptic world with all this radiation around and how it is affecting you as a player and what sort of impact is it having on you and what you're able to do. It gives you something else to manage and keep an eye on as you move through the world.

IGN AU: On the radiation point, if you're choosing to carry the Fatman gun (a mini nuclear bomb slingshot) and use it heavily, will that add to your radiation level?

Pete Hines: The Fatman itself doesn't but if you go into any of the locations where one of its nukes has gone off then that will give you radiation. So if you shoot an enemy over there and an explosion goes off and you wander into it, then there will be radiation in that area for a period of time that you will take damage from.

IGN AU: Was it tough balancing the RPG and FPS elements so that both felt right?

Pete Hines: We certainly spent a lot of time on that because we felt that the shooter element, what you're doing minute-to-minute, has to look good and feel fun. If that's all you do for ten minutes it has to feel good. There is all this other stuff you can do behind the scenes. It's not just a shooter. It's not that limited. But the shooting has to be good. Because 99 per cent of people at some point are going to pick up a gun and start shooting stuff and if it doesn't feel right and doesn't look right then we have a big problem. We did spend a lot of time on that because we felt it was important to get it right.

I think from our internal play-testing, and from some folks who've been able to play it recently, the feedback is that it feels pretty good. It's clearly not just a shooter but it holds up well when you're just running around shooting stuff.
Be sure to read all of it, it's a good interview.

Link: Fallout 3 interview on IGN AU.

Spotted on F3:APNB.

News for Friday, July 4, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 8:29

Since this one reached DaC, N4G, BGSF, Blue's News and here in record tempo, it might be a good idea for us to nip this rumour in the bud.

Some guy claims some guy he knows at the Australian rating agency (the Office of Film and Literature Classification) passed down word that Fallout 3 is refused classification and thus effectively banned for containing morphine/drugs in general (whichever).

Now, despite this being a "some guy I know" post, a lot of people seem to be taking it seriously. Which is probably why GameSpot rushed in to debunk it:

The official story: Red Ant Enterprises--the game's distributors in Australia--responded with a flat "no comment" when contacted by GameSpot AU. Coincedentally, Red Ant was also the distributors for Blitz: The League, which was also banned in Australia in early 2007. Blitz was refused classification due to its in-game drug use.

When GameSpot AU then contacted the OFLC, we were told no final decision had been made on Fallout 3, although the game had been submitted for classification. Fallout 3 is scheduled to hit Australia in October 2008 on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. The OFLC spokesperson said when a final decision is made, details will be made available on the OFLC Web site within 24 hours.
(No such details had been published at the time of posting this article.)

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus for now, given the OFLC's official statement to GameSpot AU. But given Australia's track record, we'll be keeping a close eye on this situation and inform you with more details as they come to hand. For more information on Australia's game classification system, check out our special Censory Overload feature.
That's not to say Fallout 3 isn't a possible candidate for censorship under the OFLC, it's just saying it hasn't happened yet.

Link: Fallout 3 Banned In Australia! on GameSpot Forums
Link: Fallout 3 banned in Australia? on GameSpot Rumor Control.

Posted by Brother None - at 3:48

Angry-at-Bethesda blogger Solivagant teamed up with Angry-at-Bethesda site BlizzardGuru to bring us part II of the How to make a proper sequel line of thought.

I’ll say Blizzard has an advantage when confronted with Bethesda in this issue. The Diablo series has more fans than Fallout, but since the lore was never one of the most important parts of the game, not many of them will counter Blizzard’s changes to the lore, if they exist.

In the Fallout series, the story, the gameworld, is extremely important. In fact, several players keep stating that Bethesda is doing a good job because they’re trying to maintain the storyline, the dialog and the humour of what came before. Trying doesn’t mean succeeding.

The few tidbits and developer’s journals that Bethesda has released have all let on that they aren’t handling the material very well. The fans have all recognized several flaws, for instance, their decision to relocate a prominent faction from the series to a new area, when such a faction had little desire in expanding or relocating. Basically, it’s the same mistake Fallout Tactics had.

I’ll give them two things they got right, though: they chose an unused vault number, 101, and the teaser trailer itself felt true to the series. There was the wrecked city, the art deco statues, the old 50’s song (they even used the same band, The Inkspots). It was too bad that by the end of the trailer everybody knew that the game would be a first person shooter / rpg. It had been rendered in the game engine.
Link: How To Make A Proper Sequel: Evolving The Story on BlizzardGuru.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:12

The BethBlog is bringing word of the first pieces of hands-on coverage of Fallout 3. Specifically, from PSM3 #103:

“You’ll also come across the Enclave; the remains of the US government who have access to incredible technology and broadcast patriotic marching band music. Their President is voiced by Malcolm “A Clockwork Orange” McDowell. He’s a major villain.”
And the July issue of Instock Magazine, which is not hands-on but just the regular demo showing.
TPCG: Can you tell us what the injuries shown in the Pip-Boy Status screenshot will have on your character?

Todd Howard: Having one or both of your legs crippled slows you down, and having your head crippled gives you blurry vision, but the blur is not constant, it’s like having a concussion that comes and goes.
Link: Around the web: Hands-on edition on BethBlog.

Posted by Brother None - at 2:09

In a recent filing, Interplay reveals that they have issued some stock in trade for services/discounts, amongst which:

On June 30, 2008 the Company issued to Interactive Game Group, LLC a warrant to purchase 2,000,000 shares of Common Stock of the Company as consideration for entering into a Game Production Agreement with the Company. Such warrant was issued, and any underlying shares of Common Stock would be issued, in a private placement exempt from registration pursuant to section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933. Such warrant has a term of 10 years, an exercise price of $0.13, is immediately exercisable as to 400,000 shares of Common Stock and becomes exercisable at any time after 60 days with respect to 400,000 shares of Common Stock for each game up to 4 games that meets the requirements for production and funding under the Game Production Agreement between the Company and Interactive Game Group, LLC , and was otherwise issued in accordance with the terms of the Form of Warrant Agreement filed as Exhibit 10.07 to the Company's Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31, 2008.
Interactive Game Group is a company focused on financing and acquiring games and IPs, they are working with Majesco and SouthPeak, amongst others. The description from the Majesco press release:
About Interactive Game Group, LLC

Interactive Game Group (I2G) is a company producing and acquiring video games and other interactive entertainment properties, whether packaged media, online or wireless. Created by Frederic Chesnais, former Chief Executive Officer of Atari Interactive, Inc. with a decade-long experience in acquiring, financing and licensing intellectual property rights in the video game industry, I2G is developing and financing a portfolio of video game properties, joining forces with the best studios, publishers and distributors for each project on a worldwide scale.
This is good news, but still we should not expect to hear anything about FOOL this month.

Link: Interplay 8-K on SEC.

Posted by Brother None - at 1:53

Todd Howard posts on the BGSF to notify the answers for the BGSF fan interview - the questions of which were submitted May 28th - should be up the 7th of July, with the added fireworks of exclusive images.

Ok, I know this has been a long time coming. Too Long. I just wanted to drop in and apologize. It’s 100% my fault, and Gstaff can tell you that he’s asked me every day for the last several weeks for it and I keep saying “today!” but the days seem to be getting crazier and crazier. Finishing a game is kinda like that. Anyway, I finally started answering it today, and was hoping to have it up before the July 4th holiday, but that’s not going to happen. So – it will be up Monday, writing that here makes me stick to it as opposed to just telling Gstaff. And to seek everyone’s forgiveness - we’re also going to put up some exclusive images here on the forums, just for you folks who have been waiting. Thanks for your patience, you guys have been great.
Link: Fan Interview Update, ...it's coming on BGSF.

Thanks UncannyGarlic.

News for Thursday, July 3, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 22:00

Yahoo! writes a short tidbit about Fallout 3 in their Week in video-game news.

Bethesda acquired the rights to the long-dormant "Fallout" series while it was still working on "Oblivion." Part of what drew Howard to the original games (published by Interplay) was their "overall charm," with the bleak environment balanced by "retro '50s optimism, the idea that in a nuclear disaster you could just get under your desk."

Building on the lessons learned from the "Elder Scrolls" games, Howard and his team have taken that mix of sunniness and despair and translated it into a detailed, 3D universe. Some of the places still standing, he said, are "sun-baked suburban clichés, but you never know: Is there something bad or is there food?" And "Fallout" fanatics will be delighted to hear that Dogmeat, the loyal pooch from the earlier games, is back.
Link: 'Fallout 3' returns on Yahoo!

EDIT: Briosafreak points out this blurb is an Associated Press piece showing up here and there.

News for Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Posted by Brother None - at 20:47

Screen Play on the Australian the Age Blogs has previewed Fallout 3. It's short, but has some interesting bits on RTwP.

Hines says Bethesda is currently balancing the VATS system so it is not too powerful.

At present, you can obviously try to cheat and run up to creatures and then use VATS to increase your chances of a successful strike, but they will do plenty of damage while you are charging towards them, which should be enough of a deterrent.

Hines believes VATS really adds to the game's dramatic tension.

"I've got enough ammo and health packs to keep myself alive, but in the game all that stuff is fairly hard to come by, so we really want to play up that idea like you're down to your last clip of ammo, you're low on health, you queue up some moves in VATS, and you're like: 'Please, God, let this guy die with this shot...'"
The same feeling was very common in TB combat, one should note. It'd be cool if they managed to reproduce it.

Link: Fallout 3 Preview on The Age Blogs: Screen Play.

Spotted on F3:APNB.

Posted by Per - at 19:47

In a thread on aiming and accuracy on the BGSF, Fo3 lead designer Emil Pagliarulo dropped in to say the following:

For us, balancing the combat is very much a "feel" thing. It's something that takes a ton of playtesting (involving the entire dev team), and determining what feels right for everyone. It's all about finding that nebulous perfect balance between player skill and character skill.

In run-and-gun, melee feels a lot like melee in Oblivion. If you connect with the weapon, you hit. There's no die roll to determine that. But your character's skill, as well as the condition of the weapon, determine the damage done.

In run-and-gun, ranged combat is... I dunno. I'd say it feels a lot like Deus Ex 1. Accuracy is affected by player skill and weapon condition -- so if you've got, say, a really high Small Guns skill and a perfect condition assault rifle, your aim will be dead on. Low Small Guns and crappy assault rifle, and you'll miss more. The skill and condition also affect the damage you'll do.

With most ranged weapons in run-and-gun, you can also go into an aim mode, which zooms you in and increases your accuracy. With Melee and Unarmed weapons, the player will block instead of zooming in.

Based on all the feedback we've gotten, it feels really solid now.

Of course, V.A.T.S. is its own story completely...

I'd say for combat, I generally go 70% V.A.T.S., 30% run-and-gun (but that's different for everyone, really).
He follows up to say that for someone with a less than stellar hand-eye coordination, "V.A.T.S. is definitely going to be the way to go."

Also, a few words on armor.
I know it's been mentioned in some preview or other that all the apparel (armor and clothing) is a single suit. Headgear is separate. There are a LOT of apparel options, and yes, there are are some pieces of clothing that give stat boosts, so if you decide to wear clothing and not armor, you'll still get a discernible gameplay benefit.

I've seen some apparel/headgear combinations I never would have imagined (some which involve a big pre-war lady's sunhat...)
And finally he also talks about level scaling, which contains little new material other than the blessed words of "no Raiders in Power Armor".

Posted by Brother None - at 1:01

Another preview from the Australian rounds.

From a gameplay perspective, most aspects are very solid. The emphasis on exploration and discovery are also punctuated with the interactions that you have between others in world and the numerous factions that are out and about. So exactly how you go about these things will determine your course towards the final destination. For example, if you are a jerk towards the sheriff in the first town you’ll likely visit, he’ll diplomatically blow you off. However, if you are polite, he will confide in you, which will have further implications. Your personal interface is now governed by the PIP-Boy 3000, which is upgraded from previous games and gives you access all your stats and inventories and what not.

Interacting with your environment is very important as well. Often you’ll search for water, though it will be contaminated by radiation. So you need to make a choice whether or not to heal yourself and take radiation damage, or go at it until you find another source of healing. At one stage, a radio signal was picked up about a man sheltering his family and asking for assistance. Upon discovery of their location, it was actually found that they’ve been dead for a long time, but left a lot of items for you to collect. It’s this part of Fallout 3, the numerous choices behind what you’ll be able to do that drive the game.

A point of contention in Fallout 3 is change in perspective. The game is now played from either first or third person. From the above mentioned gameplay features, the perspective fits in very well, though the one issue that remains relates to combat. Relying on playing like a first person shooter isn’t bad, though just like Bioshock, the combat doesn’t excel as much as the other aspects in the game. However, there are some great additions. In particular, the fact that you’ll have to be on the ball as weapons wear-and-tear, you’ll get to build custom weapons and pick-up and play with whatever you find.
Link: Fallout 3 Preview on PAL Gaming Network.

News for Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Posted by Morbus - at 14:17

Following a brief mention of Diablo 3 on Bethesda producer Ashley Cheng's blog, Blizzard Guru has written a new article comparing Bethesda to Blizzard, and how Bethesda can "suck it":

I used to like Bethesda, it being the developer of Morrowind and all. Over the past few years however, Bethesda progress upwards as a “pretty good” game company came to a grinding halt, and its progress is now somewhere between stagnant and half past dead. Still, there’s a growing sense that someone at that company forgot to take Ritalin the morning they announced that isometric games are dead and that PC gaming is dying.

To confirm their position on the manner, Bethesda has:

# Completely reimagined Fallout to look like a Post-Nuclear version of Oblivion, much to every gamer’s chagrin
# Pissed off the majority of their fan base with ignorance, arrogance and misunderstanding of the Fallout franchise
# Signed shoddy deals with game journalists (what journalists?) to limit the flow of information with regards to Fallout 3
# Compounded their mistakes with lies towards the fan base about how the game isn’t anything close to being “Oblivion with guns”, despite the fact that several of those “journalists” confirmed that the game does indeed feel that way.
# Had a guy who has no idea what he’s talking about represent the company

Having said that, since Blizzard has absolutely no idea what they are doing releasing a 3D Isometric PC game, let’s see how they dug themselves into a hole:

# For the past few weeks Blizzard has had a front page splash of mysterious clues hinting towards their next game
# Each consecutive clue came closer to revealing the mystery, building an exponential amount of hype
# On June 28th in Paris, France at the WWI, Blizzard announced the development of Diablo III and revealed their new website, complete with two trailers, screenshots, and game lore, and have since been updating the website with more information
# Fans around the world got hyped about up the upcoming game, and communities were formed. The number of Diablo 2 players on Battle.net substantially increased

At the moment, Blizzard is in a PR hellhole. Vivendi stocks are plummeting because of the recent announcement of Diablo III, and several of its key designers were leaving in droves.

Or so Bethesda probably wishes.

Now excuse me while I go spend more money on horse armour and 15 minute quests.
Link: Bethesda Softworks Can Suck It @ Blizzard Guru
Link: Bethesda's Ashley Cheng Disappointed at Diablo 3 @ Blizzard Guru
Link: When the Ship Runs Out of Ocean @ Ash: the Blog

Thanks Anonymous.

Posted by Morbus - at 12:05

Kotaku Australian Edition has two small posts about Fallout 3:

Bloody mess: Pete himself comfirmed that this perk was in. In addition to increased gore, this perk will provide a small damage bonus, making it better than the original.
Swift Learner: This perk functions the same as it did in previous games. For each rank of Swift Learner you take, the player will receive 5% extra experience. (...)
Lead Belly: This perk, which can be taken multiple times, reduces the amount of damage you take from radiation when you drink water from a contaminated source (such as a toilet in an abandoned subway) by 5% per rank.
Also:
Going through my notes, I realised I missed one! Called Strong Back, it allows you to carry an extra 100 pounds of equipment. Again, it's an oldie from the previous games, altered to suit the mechanics of the new title.

I should mention that Bloody Mess was originally a trait. It seems it's been changed to a perk for Bethesda's instalment.
There's also something (unimportant, really) about cheats or something:
Towards the end of his presentation, Hines gave us a quick look at the world map. Like Oblivion, nothing is revealed to start with, but once you've visited a location you're free to "fast travel" to it at any time. In order to show us the markers on the map, Pete's assistant had to enter a cheat code via a drop-down console. Here's what was typed:
“tmm 1”
Considering Oblivion also had a console in which the player could enter cheats, I'd say it's a good bet this little command will make it into the final build.
Link: Three Fallout 3 Perks @ Kotaku.com.au
Link: Another Perk & The First Ever Fallout 3 Cheat Code? @ Kotaku.com.au

Thanks digitalcorsair.

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