I'm entirely rewriting Fallout 4's story.

Discussion in 'Fallout 4 modding' started by Black-pilled, Dec 17, 2018.

  1. Black-pilled

    Black-pilled First time out of the vault

    Oct 15, 2018
  2. Black-pilled

    Black-pilled First time out of the vault

    Oct 15, 2018
    If anyone here is interested, we've moved discussion off-site to discord. Here if you want to help create NPCs or minor factions there is a section where you can get a lore-briefing and a section where you can submit npc ideas. Please drop by to make filling out the world a bit easier:

    https://discord.gg/D5pXQZJ

    Lore briefing:

    Fallout 4’s Commonwealth had been mentioned in both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. The impression one got from these encounters, especially in Fallout 3’s DLC The Pitt, was that the Commonwealth (of New England) was dominated by a technologically advanced power called “The Institute”. The idea I had from these types of descriptions was that at the very least the Greater Boston area is quite openly held and run by the Institute, otherwise it would not have such notoriety. In vanilla Fallout 4 however the Institute was made to be a type of shadow-faction like the Brotherhood of Steel in Fallout New Vegas with very little known about its whereabouts. For the rewrite, CIT will have survived as it did in vanilla, but it will have lead the rebuilding of Boston as well as driving out the last real raider gangs from the metro area. For the purposes of the mod Boston as well as Cambridge will be a walled-in city-state inhabited near exclusively by friendly NPCs. Every building is given an interior, debris and trash will be removed and functioning quests, vendors, factions and characters will be added to the entirety of the metro.

    With the synths acting as a slave class (60% of Boston’s population), most humans in Boston will work in artisan, entrepreneurial or, in regards to CIT, advanced fields. Ghouls and Super Mutants reside in South Boston harbour, but are allowed to travel elsewhere in the city without much trouble. The western portion of Boston, where the main entrance will be located, will be inhabited by temporary residents and travellers, eager to visit Boston or making a quick stop on the way to some other place. This area has most of the general vendors and bars. Boston, however, will be under the constant watchful eye of security, making sure no synths escape or humans are smuggling institute tech out or other forms of questionable items in. The security forces are made up of synths with human officers. The Financial district, Eastern Boston, is where most of the permanent residents would reside as well as civic amenities such as churches, libraries, public schools, courtrooms and hospitals. Cambridge is reserved for students and Institute officials. (Students from outside Boston often come from wealthy families from all across the wasteland). Synths are employed in services such as lab assistants all the way down to prostitutes. They are generally treated as a worker (slave) class. Some synths are owned by businesses, individuals or the Institute itself in regards to public services. One example of the latter would be Nick Valentine who does not have a direct owner but works for the institute as a branch of their police force with regards to detective work. This also means in some cases synths can in fact outrank humans or have human subordinates in terms of authority, but a synth always has a human superior. Synths are also extremely important for Boston’s food supply as they are used in a mass greenhouse project west of Boston along the Charles River. Without it, Boston would not be able to maintain its large population.



    Most synths see Boston as a benevolent dictatorship as very few see much point in “escaping” to the wasteland where there are close to zero amenities, quality of life is abysmal in comparison to Boston and synths are known to be hunted and stripped for parts. Even if some are 3rd generation human-like synths, there are groups that specialise in identifying escaped synths and enslaving them. Slavery outside of the wasteland is regarded as much worse than servitude within Boston’s walls. However, there are still many synths that seek freedom from Boston despite these facts, and even some that resent humans all together and who would like nothing more than to ‘flip the tables.’ The commonwealth is a hostile and irradiated region. The glowing sea may be where radiation levels have lingered over the centuries, but the constant rad storms have caused a bit of an eerie orange hue to exist across the commonwealth. There are humans that live in small slums outside Boston that could not compete with synths in regards to work, but most humans outside the walls exist as hardy pastoral farmers of Brahmin and Ragstags. Those who do not practice husbandry and instead resort to a more typical waster hunter-gathering lifestyle are essentially tribals. The vast majority of wooden structures outside of the metro will be deleted as they would have decayed. However, stories of odd monolithic structures have been spreading in the countryside with no apparent explanation besides tribal folklore, mistaking pre-war structures for something else or dedicated pranksters. There are rumours of cults surrounding these structures, as well as paranormal occurrences.(edited)



    Boston will have a heavy Bladerunner-Deus Ex hard sci fi feel to it while the outside will revert to an atmosphere similar to Judge Dredd’s cursed earth or Stalker. Cambridge will be the only area with extremely clean chrome interiors. As a city-state, Boston and Cambridge, with its leaders, the Institute, is officially known as the Commonwealth Provincial Government, or CPG. Its currency is made up of coins called CID, Commonwealth Institute Dollars, backed by microfusion cells, which the Institute has managed to mass produce. It trades microfusion cells and technical know-how with outside factions, especially the East Coast Brotherhood of Steel, who uses the cells to power their vertibirds. Much of the Eastern BOS trade in return consists of water caravans. The Eastern BOS and the CPG have a cordial relationship and one can often spot some paladins in Boston observing the Institute’s activity, overseeing and advising training of its synth security forces or hanging around the BOS embassy. The Eastern Brotherhood of Steel has no physical presence within the commonwealth wasteland besides some minor outposts with the blessing of the CPG. However, they are few and far between and they rely mostly on the institute for assistance.



    The Minutemen also exist, but their history has been altered. For a long time the minutemen acted as the militia force of the commonwealth to protect from raiders and bring order. With help from the institute they were able to receive equipment and material in order to do their jobs extremely efficiently to the point that they eventually drove out the raiders, although the CPG takes most of the credit due to supplying them logistically. When the CPG managed to produce combat-able synths there was no longer a need to pay and maintain the minutemen as a security force, thus they were honourably discharged and allowed to operate outside Boston, mostly around Quincy. While still being well equipped with institute technology and having continued to train new recruits the minutemen have adapted to a more mercenary-like existence in the commonwealth and also often demand wastelanders pay a tax for their protection. Although this tax is seen as unfair by some, it is needed to maintain the minutemen’s combat-readiness who in return keep their word and keep most of the scavengers in the ruins searching for scrap instead of resorting to raiding wastelanders.



    The CPG, while acting more like a city-state, has attempted to explore and establish bases across coastal New England over the years, reaching as far North as Far Harbour and as far South as New Bedford. A very small trickle of traders and wastelanders from across the Atlantic have managed to make contact with the CPG as well. As a result of exploration westwards it has had small skirmishes with Ronto, a highly militaristic and expansionist faction stemming from former Toronto, Canada which sees the CPG as a potential threat if allowed to establish itself outside of the Greater Boston area. Overall, there exists an extremely high quality of life within Boston and Cambridge in comparison to the rest of the wasteland. Although there are many powers of similar wealth or vastly greater prestige and size, The CPG is able to concentrate the enforcement of its laws within its walls and provide public services, which creates an environment very close to pre-war levels of public order. Non-conventional services such as an entertainment industry in the form of film-making and music recording exists within Boston as well as organised sports such as the Commonwealth Fighting League, with its headquarters in the Combat Zone or the Robotic Sports Federation.



    In order to control immigration and the formation of slums, the CPG has relatively strict residence and citizenship requirements. Allowing travellers only a limited amount of time to reside in Boston and requiring potential citizens to establish a profitable business, apply to CIT or find work under someone else who’s already a citizen. Once citizenship is achieved, one of the benefits is a license which allows one to purchase synths. No citizen, however, is allowed to leave with synths without special permissions and usually only for a limited amount of time. Failing to comply leads to permanent loss of citizenship. Tips, notes and examples: When writing npcs, try to imagine their attitudes towards male human, female human, ghoul, mutant, robot, or low intelligence characters. It often helps to walk around and scout areas within vanilla Fallout 4 for ample inspiration for a character, minor faction or quest.



    Follow the tenants whereby the original Fallout was made:

    1. Multiple Decisions. We will always allow for multiple solutions to any obstacle.
    2. No Useless Skills. The skills we allow you to take will have meaning in the game.
    3. Dark humor is good. Slap-stick is not.
    4. Let the player play how he wants to play.
    5. Your actions have repercussions.

    For those that want to focus on environmental storytelling, take note that while Boston is a city full of life, technology and activity, the outside is still a barren and dangerous wasteland. One must FEEL how being a citizen of Boston, under the rule of the Institute, is a privilege, and how being rejected from the safety of the walls means a very difficult life. Example of the outside atmosphere:



    Most feral ghouls have also been removed and replaced with « Institute Failed Test », or « Failed Synth ». They are synths turned insane ; half human, half robots, turned completely mad by pain and despair they want to replace their failing parts by ripping apart the flesh of humans, and gluing it to their mechanical parts.

    The music will also be changed. We will use the classic fallout soundtrack, coupled with a few tracks from other modders. Also, radio stations within Boston will be retro futuristic with synth wave and electric swing songs from most independent radio stations. CPG radio will also include some propaganda, news and repeating of laws. Something more creepy will exist for Classical or normal 50s Radio coming from who knows where. Instead of classic songs, it will play creepy short wave radio emissions like the ones here:



    ***DISCLAIMER*** Not all ideas and gameplay additions the developers have decided upon are included here for the sake of avoiding spoilers and not stifling creativity.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  3. Octavian

    Octavian It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 16, 2018
    Good luck bro. Only warning is that you need to remember to preserve the spirit of fallout. There are definitely some dystopian elements in the post apocalyptic theme and its okay to play them up, but just don't forget the experience is at its core a post nuclear RPG
     
  4. Black-pilled

    Black-pilled First time out of the vault

    Oct 15, 2018
    The idea for this mod had already entered my thoughts when I first witnessed Fallout 4’s trailer back in 2015. Funnily enough not because I intended to mod the game as soon as it was released, but because I actually fooled myself into believing that Fallout 4 was everything I thought it was. I thought that Boston was a giant living and breathing settlement with hundreds of interesting characters to meet, and I believed the Institute was in charge as a type of government, like the New Californian Republic in previous Fallouts.

    As gameplay was released and I eventually got the game myself, my expectations turned out to be false. The game wasn’t ‘bad’ but it left a lot to be desired. It turned out to be what Bethesda set out to create; a post-apocalyptic sandbox shooter with RPG elements. Most people were more irked by the overall gameplay design but what had really made me ponder the idea for a mod was just the logic of the story and the lore of the Fallout universe overall, as well as the greater messages and concepts the series had previously tried to explore.

    “My idea is to explore more of the world and more of the ethics of a post-nuclear world, not to make a better plasma gun.” – Tim Cain

    There’s a certain structure to post-apocalyptic settings, that being that the world is destroyed and characters attempt to navigate the anarchy following this destruction. In more expanded settings characters or factions maybe even attempt to rebuild or re-establish order and stability to the best of their abilities, with their ideologies and world views clashing with other factions for the right to be the dominant force within the newly created power vacuum left by the apocalypse. This overarching concept is then peppered with smaller problems unique to the setting or complimented with an existential threat that might be a detriment to what remains of the world.

    Most post-apocalyptic-settings follow this traditional structure with some variations. The Fallout series has a unique way of making this concept more vibrant or more clear, that being its use of a 1950s style Americana culture existing well into the 21s century until the nuclear war broke out. Not only that, but technology and weapons have a retro-futuristic style to them, partly due to the transistor not being invented when it should have in our timeline.

    This may seem like a simple cosmetic paintjob, but it serves as a critical element to the story and themes of Fallout. These range from the juxtaposition of pre-war America with the dreary and dark post war wasteland - to commentary of the evils that can be committed by human civilization despite propaganda and media projecting a rosier image. One can also never forget the classic theme of how “war never changes.”

    With all this in mind, Fallout has managed to stand out among post-apocalyptic RPG games. This is not just for being one of the innovators of the genre in the late 90s, but also for continuing to provide an interesting world with lore that can be toyed with in many intriguing ways.

    The lore of Fallout however, even back in the late 90s, had started to come to terms with the natural evolution of an expansive post-apocalyptic setting. This evolution is that, logically, the world doesn’t stay destroyed forever. Of course, this depends on the nature of the apocalypse and how harsh the conditions are and for how many years. In Fallout’s case when the bombs had finished dropping many people had indeed been set back to the literal Stone Age, but a multitude of factions had maintained some form of civilization or were even technologically advanced. In the original Fallout, which takes place 84 years after the apocalypse, the most advanced faction were isolationist technology hoarders while the rest of the wasteland was essentially a scarcely populated warzone peppered with hold outs of humans scraping a living in the violent dog-eat-dog world; the classic post-apocalyptic setting.

    However, with the release of Fallout 2, a game where the story takes place 164 years after the apocalypse, the writers had to deal with the fact that although civilizations fall, new ones tend to rise. One needed only to take a stroll through new locations such as New Reno or revisit old ones like Shady Sands to see that the world was rebuilding. However, the constant threat of various predatory creatures and the lack of resources made power projection still a serious issue for any new governments and thus the wasteland still maintained a ‘wild west’ level of anarchy that still felt fitting of a game like Fallout.

    The developers were not afraid to allow their setting to evolve and succeeded in showcasing it in a believable manner. The game might not be as desolate as the original, but the story and themes explored in the main and side quests were just as enticing. Fallout is not just about the post-apocalyptic landscape, it’s about the factions and characters that arose after the fact. The Fallout world and how it progresses is what keeps fans so attached to the series and so excited to see what else can be made of the lore.

    More recent entries into the franchise by Bethesda have stuck more to the old formula of the original Fallout, and thus that of a traditional post-apocalyptic game. Both Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 feel similar and both their settings are near entirely anarchic. The problem that comes with this is the fact that the games both take place 200 years after the bombs had fallen and no progress had been made in the areas where they are set. Both Boston and D.C seem to be permanent warzones.

    On the other hand, Fallout New Vegas, in the spirit of Fallout 2, attempted to present both a progressed Fallout city in the form of the New Vegas, while allowing the surrounding area to be only loosely governed. By this time the New Californian Republic of Fallout 2 had a population in the millions and while still mostly rural, was semi-industrialised and boasted large cities. However, many players have been interested in revisiting California in future games despite these facts.

    One can then conclude that Fallout does indeed continue to have relevance as a setting past its original presentation. If the setting is closer to the earlier game or set even closer to doomsday, one seeks to explore the ruins of the old world and see its colossal skeletons and broken dreams. If the setting is made to take place later, then one seeks to explore and be intrigued by the factions rising up to create the New World on top of the old. The conflict between the Old World and the New World was clear in Fallout 2 with the Enclave; essentially the descendants of the former U.S government. They battled it out with the NCR which had grown out of the small town of Shady Sands into a full-fledged republic. Even the Brotherhood of Steel, which was formally the most advanced faction in Fallout 1, had become a shadow of its former self.

    This evolving world and the conflicts between the new and old were further explored in Fallout New Vegas. The NCR was now a representative of the idea of rebuilding the old USA, but according to the slave army of Caesar’s Legion, the NCR was destined to repeat the Old World’s mistakes. The Legion on the other hand saw itself as a new way for the wasteland to survive, consisting mostly of tribes that had rejected close to everything formally attached to pre-war America.

    Themes do not have to be limited to conflicts between the new and old, but the main point here is that evolving worlds are much more interesting and immersive than static ones. This is not meant to suggest that the alternate timeline alone is an enticing setting; it is simply an argument that one should not be afraid to rationally advance and rebuild the apocalyptic world as the story progresses. While it may be easy to disregard what gave Fallout its original aesthetics and appeal if one is not careful, the pay-off can end up making the story and world seem much more alive and unique in comparison to other post-apocalyptic settings.

    At the end of the day Fallout is indeed a post nuclear RPG, the question just becomes how this post nuclear world evolves if one insists on advancing the world a few hundred more years into the future. Unless one intends to only write subsequent sequels close to the occurrence of the Great War, having a static anarchic setting despite the advancement of time will just seem ludicrous and will make the world seem less alive or believable.

    This is where Fallout 4 dropped the ball for me. I can give Fallout 3 a pass since it was essentially a reboot of the franchise by Bethesda (who originally planned to have the game take place only 50 years after the Great War, not 200, but wanted to be able to include the Enclave). The fact that D.C was still an absolutely terrible place to live in could also be explained by the Super Mutant presence stifling stability to an extent. However , Fallout 4 was Bethesda’s 2nd shot at making a Fallout game and they had extensive knowledge of the praise that New Vegas had received for its story, characters and writing quality overall. This is despite Obsidian having been given little more than a year to make New Vegas, echoing how Fallout 2 was also made in a similarly constrained period of time by Black Isles Studios.

    Fallout 4 improved a lot of the general mechanics, gunplay etc and the graphics were substantially upgraded, but major mistakes were made in design philosophy which I partly blame on the Skyrim model and its success. The gameplay was centred on shooting and looting, and Bethesda attempted to write a personal story with a voice acted player-character. Skyrim followed a similar pattern, albeit with a fantasy RPG paintjob, numerous dungeons dotted on the map, as well as a storyline centred on the player-character essentially becoming a demi-god. While there isn’t anything wrong in of itself with this type of gameplay and story writing, the obvious drawback was that it digressed from what made specifically all the Fallout games, including Bethesda’s own Fallout 3, enjoyable despite their myriad of mechanical flaws. Indeed, the meme that Fallout under Bethesda was simply “the Elder Scrolls with guns” had actually turned out very close to the truth with the release of Fallout 4.

    Many people legitimately don’t mind the change; the game was actually quite fun for me the first few playthroughs. Though, I could not help but question why dialogue was so limited in a series known for some of the most charming writing and characters of any RPG. I could not help but question why my character is seemingly a worried father/mother looking for their baby but can be side-tracked by the most mundane of things due to player agency. I could not help but question why over the past 200 years Boston was still technically a warzone with raiders and super mutants blocks across from each other, but building a safe settlement is as easy as one man deciding to put up some crooked wooden scrap walls and planting some tato patches.

    Fallout 4’s greatest sin was its poor writing and world design. Yes, some characters deserve praise in their writing and voice acting, and some areas in the game were beautifully enchanting like the Glowing Sea. However, the threads holding these aspects together and everything in-between either seemed campy, uninspiring, predictable or even lore-breaking. Boston had clearly been meticulously designed and some quests stretched the limits of what I thought could be done with the Creation Engine, but many areas dotted the map that were closed off with boarded doors and hardly any quests were fleshed out beyond fetching items. Even the ability to role-play a pacifist or a dim-witted hero was scrapped in favour of a combat heavy post-nuclear themepark.

    Nonetheless, the concepts that Fallout 4 attempted to explore were very alluring. The Institute, the Synths and several other parts of the story showed a lot of potential. I myself have several headcanons for most of the unexplained parts of Fallout 4. This is indeed how much the setting captivated me despite all the flaws I previously mentioned.

    It is with all this in mind I kept wondering what could be improved, what could be changed to enhance a character, faction or even the story. This is not a malicious smear on Bethesda, there’s enough of that everywhere and at this point it isn’t much of a positive exercise. All we on the mod team wish to do now is see what can be done to rewrite Fallout 4 to make it the game it should have been in our humble view. We do not see ourselves as an authority on what is and isn’t Fallout, despite what has been said so far. Many might rightfully disagree with what’s been said and perhaps feel it is ludicrous that we propose changing anything. However, in the early stages of this project we on the team have been absolutely enthralled by all the things that could be added or changed in the game. To make Fallout 4 a sequel the Fallout franchise and its fan base can enjoy even if they do not see any of the problems that we do is the reason this mod is being made by us. Being simply a fan of this series myself, I hope that this mod only succeeds to satisfy those who enjoy Fallout.



    Now with all that said I'm disappointed at the vitriol we're receiving on reddit for just being a project that started on these forums. I mean, I know it has a reputation, but for God's sake we're doing something constructive here.

     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2019
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  5. AureliusofPhoenix

    AureliusofPhoenix Kahnum of Outworld and 4 INT Legionary

    Jun 25, 2018
    Well, I wish you the best of luck, and I’ll definitely be trying your mod when it’s released.

    As for Reddit, it can go fuck itself. You do what you do man. Don’t let our bad reputation get in the way of that.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  6. LovinglyGaslight

    LovinglyGaslight First time out of the vault

    Apr 7, 2019
    A bold move if you manage to pull it off, man.

    Also Reddit can go fuck itself.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  7. ironmask

    ironmask Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Mar 10, 2018
    I just read the comment section on reddit and they have no sense of humor.
     
  8. Black-pilled

    Black-pilled First time out of the vault

    Oct 15, 2018
    I know right? Getting upset over the teasing welcome message on the server or the fact that I use the word "retard".

    Good though, last thing I want is people joining that take themselves way too seriously.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  9. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    Gotta love the "you can't keep doing the same things over and over" excuse to change franchises, forgetting that what Bethesda did with the franchise was not change: it was do way less. Less good writing, less good characters, less RPG elements, less everything.

    The "Fallout 4 won a Bafta award" thing. Like, who gives a shit about a Bafta Award? What even is a Bafta award? As i recall, The Witcher 3 won Game of the Year, which is what the casuals tend to care about.

    And modders have been upstaging and making better mods than what Bethesda has done in their games. Modders have been doing the job of Bethesda of adding actual RPG elements and things that actually matter.


    It's Fallout Redditt anway, a bunch of braindead dipshits who eat everything Bethesda makes. Bet there's still a circle of people there defending Fallout 76, even though it's a giant pile of shit.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 5
  10. Black-pilled

    Black-pilled First time out of the vault

    Oct 15, 2018
    Oh yeah and just another note, I'm trying to have some rigorous quality control on what we eventually decide upon. Everything I might have said before I deleted my posts has changed quite a bit. With that in mind I do in fact want to reveal to some here eventually what our final ideas are on this forum cause at the end of the day if both reddit and NMA doesn't like what we're doing then there's something wrong.

    @mithrap and I as well as another modder have an angle we're going for that we're trying to focus on and we generally agree on the direction we're taking the story, but I'll change or add anything someone here argues is absolutely necessary. Just shoot me a dm on discord if you want to be one of the people reviewing anything before we start wasting hours on implementing it. It's really needed if we want to make sure this is as good as we intend.

    To add to that we might as well upon the eventual release of the mod be very open about the fact that its development started on this evil dark corner of the Fallout community ay? ^^
     
  11. Octavian

    Octavian It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Jun 16, 2018
    Holy shit these redditors are drones
     
  12. ignition2k

    ignition2k First time out of the vault

    May 19, 2019
    Well reddit is a brainless circle jerk hive mind, so why do their opinions matter again? Anyway, great work, man.
     
  13. Squadcar

    Squadcar Vault Senior Citizen

    Jun 1, 2018
    I'd say about as much as the next person's opinions you hear online that you don't know at all. About that much at least.

    The real problem with reddit is that the system used for upvoting and downvoting is supposed to be used for rating how relevant and contributing something is to a discussion. Doesn't really matter if you said something right or wrong entirely but rather that you are on topic and generating actual conversation or debate. The issue comes from the fact that humans immediately see a system that shoves down comments and elevates other comments and think it's an agree/disagree button. That is what turns it into a circle jerk. All the most agreeable comments get put at the top even if they're lacking contribution e.g. "Fuck these guys ahaha am I right?" could be a top comment on a post. Why?

    Also, I just realized I never looked at the reddit pictures or forgotten them entirely, I love how that one guy is like Fallout 4 got a BAFTA. Wow, congrats the British Academy of Film and Television Arts thought Fallout 4 was the best game of 2015, who cares? I think the Witcher 3 got 166 GOTY picks and Fallout 4 got 36 followed by MGSV at 23 and Bloodborne at 19. These awards mean little, they come from different people and organizations. BAFTA also gave Best Game to Destiny the year before.
     
  14. ignition2k

    ignition2k First time out of the vault

    May 19, 2019
    Exactly. The reddit system is good in theory, but only in theory, it's often used to just bully or harass people who think differently or even remotely try to contribute to a topic in a different way.
    For me it's just facebook 2.0, bunch of randos wanting approval/likes/upvotes with some 9gag funneh lol posts thrown in the mix.

    Reddit is just a bunch of people pretending they are smart, reddit in a short video depiction:

    Anyway, back on topic, I hope you can find a way to use a lot of the existing assets in FO4 and just layer and modify the quest!
     
  15. Black-pilled

    Black-pilled First time out of the vault

    Oct 15, 2018
    We've been having a problem more with coordinating work than actually coming up with ideas(and there are a lot of ideas). This being a voluntary project it's hard to accomodate so many different schedules.

    Nonetheless we're still working but I'm short on how to get more people on board that would create a more efficient environment and deciding what needs to be finished first. At the moment we've been throwing around the idea of just making character creation work and having the first 30 minutes of the main story finished for a showcase of the new mechanics and atmosphere to gather more interest before the mod itself is in a fully playable state.

    https://www.gamespot.com/videos/fallout-miami-and-cascadia-what-it-takes-to-make-a/2300-6449434/
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  16. Black-pilled

    Black-pilled First time out of the vault

    Oct 15, 2018
    Spent the last few weeks trying to put the design philosophy to paper (among other things) so we have something to reference as we go along:

    Introduction

    The idea for this had already entered my thoughts when I first witnessed Fallout 4’s trailer back in 2015. Funnily enough not because I intended to mod the game as soon as it was released, but because I actually fooled myself into believing that Fallout 4 was everything I thought it was. I thought that Boston was a giant living and breathing settlement with hundreds of interesting characters to meet, and I believed the Institute was in charge as a type of government, like the New Californian Republic in previous Fallouts.


    As gameplay was released and I eventually got the game myself, my expectations turned out to be false. The game wasn’t ‘bad’ but it left a lot to be desired. It turned out to be what Bethesda set out to create; a post-apocalyptic sandbox shooter with RPG elements. Most people were more irked by the overall gameplay design but what had really made me ponder the idea for a mod was just the logic of the story and the lore of the Fallout universe overall, as well as the greater messages and concepts the series had previously tried to explore.


    “My idea is to explore more of the world and more of the ethics of a post-nuclear world, not to make a better plasma gun.” – Tim Cain (2002)


    There’s a certain structure to post-apocalyptic settings, that being that the world is destroyed and characters attempt to navigate the anarchy following this destruction. In more expanded settings characters or factions maybe even attempt to rebuild or re-establish order and stability to the best of their abilities, with their ideologies and world views clashing with other factions for the right to be the dominant force within the newly created power vacuum left by the apocalypse. This overarching concept is then peppered with smaller problems unique to the setting or complimented with an existential threat that might be a detriment to what remains of the world.


    Most post-apocalyptic settings follow this traditional structure with some variations. The Fallout series has a unique way of making this concept more vibrant or more clear, that being its use of a 1950s style Americana culture existing well into the 21st century until the nuclear war broke out. Not only that, but technology and weapons have a retro-futuristic style to them, partly due to the transistor not being invented when it should have in our timeline.


    This may seem like a simple cosmetic paint-job, but it serves as a critical element to the story and themes of Fallout. These range from the juxtaposition of pre-war America with the tragic and dark post war wasteland - to commentary of the evils that can be committed by human civilization despite propaganda and media projecting a rosier image. One can also never forget the classic theme of how “war never changes” as a metaphor for humanity’s endless cycle of destruction.


    With all this in mind, Fallout has managed to stand out among post-apocalyptic RPGs. This is not just for being one of the innovators of the genre in the late 90s, but also for continuing to provide an interesting and developing world with lore that can be toyed with in many intriguing ways.


    By “developing world” I’m referring to Fallout’s first sequel. The lore of Fallout, even back in the late 90s, had started to come to terms with the natural evolution of an expansive post-apocalyptic setting. This evolution is that, logically, the world doesn’t stay destroyed forever. Of course, this depends on the nature of the apocalypse and how harsh the conditions are and for how many years. In Fallout’s case when the bombs had finished dropping many people had indeed been sent back to the literal Stone Age, but a multitude of factions had maintained some form of civilization or were even technologically advanced. In the original Fallout, which takes place 84 years after the apocalypse, the most advanced faction were isolationist technology hoarders while the rest of the wasteland was essentially a scarcely populated war-zone peppered with holdouts of humans scraping a living in the violent dog-eat-dog world; the classic post-apocalyptic setting.


    However, with the release of Fallout 2, a game where the story takes place 164 years after the apocalypse, the writers had to deal with the fact that although civilizations fall, new ones tend to rise. One needed only to take a stroll through new locations such as New Reno or revisit old ones like Shady Sands to see that the world was rebuilding. However, the constant threat of various predatory creatures and the lack of resources made power projection still a serious issue for any new governments and thus the wasteland still maintained a ‘wild west’ level of anarchy that still felt fitting of a game like Fallout.


    The developers were not afraid to allow their setting to evolve and succeeded in showcasing it in a believable manner. The game might not be as desolate as the original, but the story and themes explored in the main and side quests were just as enticing. Themes were no longer purely about survival and humanity’s violent tendencies, but explored ideology. Fallout is not just about the post-apocalyptic landscape, it’s about the factions and characters that have appeared after the fact. The Fallout world and how it progresses is what keeps fans so attached to the series and so excited to see what else can be made of the lore.


    More recent entries into the franchise by Bethesda have stuck more to the old formula of the original Fallout, and thus that of a ‘traditional’ post-apocalyptic game. Both Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 feel similar and both their settings are near entirely anarchic. The problem that comes with this is the fact that the games both take place 200 years after the bombs had fallen and no progress had been made in the areas where they are set. Both Boston and D.C seem to be permanent war-zones.


    On the other hand, Fallout New Vegas, in the spirit of Fallout 2, attempted to present both a progressed Fallout city in the form of the New Vegas, while allowing the surrounding area to be only loosely governed. By this time the New Californian Republic of Fallout 2 had a population in the millions and while still mostly rural, was semi-industrialized and boasted large cities. However, many players have been interested in revisiting California in future games despite these facts.


    One can then conclude that Fallout does indeed continue to have relevance as a setting past its original presentation. If the setting is closer to the earlier game or set even closer to doomsday, one seeks to explore the ruins of the old world and see its colossal skeletons and broken dreams. If the setting is made to take place later, then one seeks to explore and be intrigued by the factions rising up to create the New World on top of the old. The conflict between the Old World and the New World was clear in Fallout 2 with the Enclave; essentially the descendants of the former U.S government. They battled it out with the NCR which had grown out of the small town of Shady Sands into a full-fledged republic. Even the Brotherhood of Steel, which was formally the most advanced faction in Fallout 1, had become a shadow of its former self by then.


    This evolving world and the conflicts between the new and old were further explored in Fallout New Vegas. The NCR was now a representative of the idea of rebuilding the old USA, but according to the slave army of Caesar’s Legion, the NCR was destined to repeat the Old World’s mistakes. The Legion on the other hand saw itself as a new way for the wasteland to survive, consisting mostly of tribes that had rejected close to everything formally attached to pre-war America.


    Themes do not have to be limited to conflicts between the new and old, but the main point here is that evolving worlds are much more interesting and immersive than static ones. This is not meant to suggest that the alternate timeline alone is an enticing setting; it is simply an argument that one should not be afraid to rationally advance and rebuild the apocalyptic world as the story progresses. While it may be easy to disregard what gave Fallout its original aesthetics and appeal if one is not careful, the pay-off can end up making the story and world seem much more alive and unique in comparison to other post-apocalyptic settings.


    At the end of the day Fallout is indeed a post nuclear RPG, the question just becomes how this post nuclear world evolves if one insists on advancing the world a few hundred more years into the future. Unless one intends to only write subsequent sequels close to the occurrence of the Great War, having a static anarchic setting despite the advancement of time will just seem ludicrous and will make the world seem less alive or believable.


    This is where Fallout 4 dropped the ball for me. I can give Fallout 3 a pass since it was essentially a reboot of the franchise by Bethesda (who originally planned to have the game take place only 50 years after the Great War, not 200, but wanted to be able to include the Enclave). The fact that D.C was still an absolutely terrible place to live in could also be explained by the Super Mutant presence stifling stability to an extent. However, Fallout 4 was Bethesda’s 2nd shot at making a Fallout game and they had extensive knowledge of the praise that New Vegas had received for its story, characters and writing quality overall. This is despite Obsidian having been given little more than a year to make New Vegas, echoing how Fallout 2 was also made in a similarly constrained period of time by Black Isles Studios.


    Fallout 4 improved a lot of the general mechanics, gunplay etc and the graphics were substantially upgraded, but major mistakes were made in design philosophy which I partly blame on the Skyrim model and its commercial success. The gameplay was centred on shooting and looting, and Bethesda attempted to write a personal story with a voice acted player-character. Skyrim followed a similar pattern, albeit with a fantasy RPG paint-job, numerous dungeons dotted on the map, as well as a storyline centred on the player-character essentially becoming a demi-god. While there isn’t anything wrong in of itself with this type of gameplay and story writing, the obvious drawback was that it digressed from what made specifically all the Fallout games, including Bethesda’s own Fallout 3, enjoyable despite their myriad of mechanical flaws. Indeed, the meme that Fallout under Bethesda was simply “the Elder Scrolls with guns” had actually turned out very close to the truth with the release of Fallout 4.


    Many people legitimately don’t mind the change; the game was actually quite fun for me the first few playthroughs. Though, I could not help but question why dialogue was so limited in a series known for some of the most charming writing and characters of any RPG. I could not help but question why my character is seemingly a worried father/mother looking for their baby but can be side-tracked by the most mundane of things due to player agency. I could not help but question why over the past 200 years Boston was still technically a war-zone with raiders and super mutants blocks across from each other, but building a safe settlement is as easy as one man deciding to put up some crooked wooden scrap walls and planting some tato patches.


    Fallout 4’s greatest sin was its poor writing and world design. Yes, some characters deserve praise in their writing and voice acting, and some areas in the game were beautifully enchanting like the Glowing Sea. However, the threads holding these aspects together and everything in-between either seemed campy, uninspiring, predictable or even lore-breaking. Boston had clearly been meticulously designed and some quests stretched the limits of what I thought could be done with the Creation Engine, but many areas dotted the map that were closed off with boarded doors and hardly any quests were fleshed out beyond fetching items. Even the ability to role-play a pacifist or a dim-witted hero was scrapped in favour of a combat heavy post-nuclear theme-park.


    Nonetheless, the concepts that Fallout 4 attempted to explore were very alluring. The Institute, the Synths and several other parts of the story showed a lot of potential. Bethesda attempted to create a main quest which the player could emotionally get involved in but it unfortunately fell short. I myself have several head-canons for most of the unexplained parts of Fallout 4. This is indeed how much the setting captivated me despite all the flaws I previously mentioned.


    It is with all this in mind I kept wondering what could be improved, what could be changed to enhance a character, faction or even the story. This is not a malicious smear on Bethesda, there’s enough of that everywhere and at this point it isn’t much of a positive exercise. All we on the mod team wish to do now is see what can be done to rewrite Fallout 4 to make it the game it should have been in our humble view. We do not see ourselves as an authority on what is and isn’t Fallout, despite what has been said so far. Many might rightfully disagree with what’s been said and perhaps feel it is ludicrous that we propose changing anything. However, in the early stages of this project we on the team have been absolutely enthralled by all the things that could be added or changed in the game. To make Fallout 4 a sequel the Fallout franchise and its fan base can enjoy even if they do not see any of the problems that we do is the reason this mod is being made by us. Being simply a fan of this series myself, I hope that this mod only succeeds to satisfy those who enjoy Fallout.


    Main Concerns


    Role-Playing Game



    "In an age where many are predicting the death of traditional RPGs at the hands of multiplayer extravaganzas, Fallout is a glowing example of the genre, one which positively radiates quality." - Robert Mayer (1997)


    Fallout’s greatest assets are not combat, action or the ability to become an all-powerful player-character, they have never been. However, recently it seems that these have become the main focus of Fallout 4; enemies level with the character and with enough dedication you can become a master of everything and the vast majority of quests tend to focus on shooting up mobs. Vanilla Fallout 4’s main gameplay elements follow a pattern of exploration, combat and looting and every other aspect of the game, especially quests, are used as a paint-job meant to give this process flavour. Locations are essentially dungeons and they exist primarily as an area for mobs to spawn. Players find, clear and loot the dungeon and are awarded with better gear or items/money to trade for better gear. The process then repeats. Quests are nearly all structured in a manner to encourage this type of gameplay whether you’re clearing a dungeon for settlers or fetching some kind of quest item from a dungeon for a faction NPC. To earn experience and level one’s character it is required to interact with these gameplay elements. Fallout 4 is by its very design a looter-shooter and it's not trying to hide it.


    Yes, this is indeed trivializing the gameplay to something rather 2-dimensional and it may seem unfair to not take into account the contextual elements of quests like these,but one has to remember Fallout’s predecessors weren’t so heavily invested in such a gameplay loop keeping one interested and playing the game for a quick sense of achievement. The original draw of Fallout was that it was a post-nuclear role-playing game. In past Fallouts the player was from the get-go encouraged to go and experience a personal story unique in each playthrough every time they created a new character; it was more about the overall journey than the mere moments of action on their own. The exploration-combat-loot loop is the sole gear that is used to make Fallout 4 playable. In Fallout 4 one can attempt to role-play a different archetype but you’re always either looting or shooting to advance in the game and achieve a quick dopamine rush.


    The intention of rewriting Fallout 4 is not just changing the story, it is changing the manner in which one plays and understands Fallout 4 as a game entirely. This should not just be a cosmetic or quest redesign, it should be a rework that will turn Fallout 4 into a RPG where combat and looting is at the very least balanced with or takes a backseat to interaction with characters and experiencing the story.


    Dialogue with characters should not be limited to 4 options, but be expanded into complex trees where finding the bits and pieces of exposition is a challenge itself. Dialogue should not be a routine of exhausting options, but one where options are picked carefully and the player attempts to figure out the personalities of NPCs. This also means players must choose their options more meticulously and pay more attention to details if they wish to advance the story in a specific manner. Overall this is meant to make dialogue and interaction with NPCs much more meaningful and interesting so as to allow it to be one of the core elements of the game rather than just a hurdle to the “real” gameplay.


    However, this does not mean scrapping or downgrading combat. On the contrary, combat needs to be made more memorable and engaging rather than 1/3 of the repetitive routine of a 15 minute gameplay cycle. Fallout 4’s enemies and their AI are notoriously predictable and even increasing enemy hitpoints simply numbs one’s mind to it more and just makes one use more bullets.


    Instead, combat needs to be made a more intense and anticipated portion of the game rather than something intrinsic and routine to overall gameplay. By this it is meant that combat should be less frequent and expected, but also deadlier. This is to prevent the player from viewing it as a tedious chore. This will allow combat to catch a player more off guard and grab their full attention in a manner which encourages immersion and more tactical thinking. This does not mean just making more high DPS or high HP enemies in an attempt to punish a player, but instead setting up more “complex” engagements that force more creative thinking from the player. This is not merely limited to enemy types and weaknesses, but also to how weapons, armor and environmental factors should affect combat much more than it currently does.


    Engagement distances will be made longer and more realistic, but naturally enemies will shoot more inaccurately. This is not an instant death sentence to the player as a result but simply opens an entire new avenue of gameplay with long-range shooting combat instead of zerg rushing opponents or exclusively using long range weapons for sneak multipliers. Damage should be more devastating for both the player and the enemy and unprotected head shots should mean instant death in most cases. When it comes to armor, bigger should also not always mean better and like a traditional RPG heavier armors, while providing more protection, should add a penalty to one’s speed, agility or accuracy depending on the armor type. The same concept would apply to weapons. Different role-playing archetypes should end up using totally different equipment to suite their needs - not just all use the same equipment because it’s regarded as a universal “best”. However, combat should not be a requirement in completing the vast majority of quests.


    The great theme I bring up here is the idea of actual different archetypes of role-playing. This is not simply different gameplay styles, but different ways of approaching the story depending on the character the player has crafted at the beginning of the game. Vanilla Fallout 4 tends to make both the gameplay and story default to around the same general archetype and play-style which makes it hard to distinguish different playthroughs from each other and ultimately destroys replayability. If a player role-plays it must not just be an arbitrary restriction they place on themselves, but be something at the start of the game they choose to pursue due to the make-up of their stat choices. A more traditional process of character creation where one selects their race and much more permanent than before special stats should be present.


    To compliment this one will also need to address how in Fallout 4 one has a highly expanded backstory for the player-character. Although you’re allowed to give your character a unique look and name each time you start a new game, your background remains pretty concrete; you are either a male war veteran or female lawyer who lived in pre-war America. You married and had a spouse and son who you care about and intend to search for the latter after they are kidnapped.


    This kind of “set background” isn’t necessarily bad, but how it’s written in Fallout 4 unfortunately leads to one’s memory of different playthroughs to melt together. One cannot really distinguish between the character you created and what Bethesda attempted to create while they tried to write a personal and emotionally engaging main story. This is without addressing the voice acted nature of the player character which I’ll expand on momentarily.


    In defense of Fallout 4, I want to remind the reader that absolutely no Fallout game to date has dumped you into the world with absolutely no background or set motivation at the start of the game. I’d argue the first 2 games in the series go out of their way to give your character a detailed origin and purpose in their main quests that cannot really be ignored. In fact in the original Fallout, while there was obvious freedom to go out, explore the wasteland and forsake the survival of your vault, you would receive an end game screen if you allowed its water to run out or failed to address the Super Mutant threat.


    Games that do drop the player-character into the world with no set background or goal want the player to just experience the sandbox and create their own stories from scratch through entirely natural exploration and interaction. There is nothing inherently wrong with this type of design either, but one also needs to remember that this is not objectively better for role-play purposes. The reason being that it may, in some cases, lead to a lack of interest in a world that seems entirely disconnected from the player unless certain paths are chosen to quickly become invested in a certain faction or quest-line.


    Players unable to do this do not necessarily “lack imagination” or “aren’t true RPG players”, they may simply not feel inspired by the world they’re given at the start of the game unless they have some prior knowledge from a previous playthrough. Also, if one honestly intends to tell a good story, you may want to compliment a player’s role-playing experience by encouraging them to make conscious decisions by purposefully guiding them into situations and quests that require them to stop and think for a moment about how their character would react to the issue at hand. This helps to develop a character actively rather than having them wander around aimlessly like a drifter with seemingly no defining decisions to make that may affect role-play.


    Both Fallout 1 and 2 made your character’s origins before the start of the game quite clear; you were either a life long resident of Vault 13 in the original Fallout, or you were a tribal member of Arroyo in Fallout 2. Both games give you an initial goal that essentially hangs the fate of an entire community over your head. In Fallout 2 you can even receive visions from your tribal shaman telling you to remember the main quest of obtaining a G.E.C.K so that Arroyo may survive.


    However, this is not an argument in favour of a highly detailed and set background in the style of Fallout 4 or even in the exact style of the original games. Rather, this is simply meant to point out that having some kind of initial goal or something to mold your character around origin-wise can actually be done in a way as to -compliment- role-playing, not dictate it. It creates instances where you decide what attitudes your character may have to their origins or initial goal and how they plan to complete their first missions.


    Fallout 4 unfortunately gives the player too much of a set origin that is hard to play around with. Little is left to the imagination about your character’s values, attitudes or life experiences save for a handful of spontaneous and out-of-place dialogue options later in-game. These later choices may seem unusual for a grieving all-American parent that values family and proudly served in their country’s military or had the temperament and education to act as someone’s attorney.


    This is where one needs to address the idea of “player-agency”. If the player feels that their actions and choices in-game are disconnected from their character; the result is a world and story that can’t be taken seriously or be fully immersed in. Playing a grieving parent in a vengeful search for their spouse’s killers and those who kidnapped their only child sounds like a very urgent goal indeed, but the urgency of this goal ceases to exist for the player when they get sidetracked defending settlements or helping some robots fly a rocket powered sailing ship straight out of a steampunk novel.


    This may seem like an odd criticism as you still have the freedom to ignore the main quest or pursue it freely depending on what you, the player, wants to do, but there’s an underlying problem here. There are no narrative choices in Fallout 4 where one is allowed to express their disinterest in finding their child, so everything the player chooses to do in-game that does not lead to finding your son seems out of place due to the way the first portion of the game is set up. Sure, you’re allowed to ignore finding your son, but then your character’s actions don’t seem to match their attitudes that the origin story has already clarified about Nate/Nora. The effect created is that you’re a puppeteer of a set-character, not one of your own making, and it is made obvious when you make decisions that would seem out of place for this set-character.


    You’re not really playing a character you created and allowed to thus justify your actions through them with other motivations, personality traits or head-canons. Every Fallout 4 character that does not focus on the main quest from start to finish only makes sense story-wise if one assumes Nate/Nora developed bi-polar disorder. This may not bother you if you don’t really care much for role-playing or the story in general, but one should ideally play a character of your own creation if you want to be able to experience a proper role-playing game and become immersed in your character’s story. In an RPG it should not be the case that one is simply prescribed a character that you are just allowed to give decorative wrapping to.


    Coming back to Fallout 1 and 2, it is easier to rationalize ignoring even the fate of your communities because the story never really clarifies your personal attitudes towards your vault or tribe. At the start of Fallout 2 you’re even allowed to insult the village Elder and express your dislike of the main quest before heading off into the wasteland. You were simply chosen to take on the task of saving your community and you’re free to decide if your character accepted this task with pride or begrudgingly did so just to forsake it at the first opportunity; accepting the consequences of such a decision. Ignoring the main quest in the original games is not just there for the sake of freedom, it can make sense depending on how you rationalize your character’s motivations. In Fallout 4 on the other hand there is no escaping the original set up of your character screaming for the loss of your spouse or how much you love and care for your baby at the start unless you pretend it just never happened. Too much detail is given about the personality of the player-character that makes any change in this personality seem extremely odd.


    This in turn leads to the discussion of having a voiced player-character. Keeping it brief, a voiced player-character, especially with just one voice type available for each gender, amplifies the issues already discussed. All male player-characters sound the same, all female characters sound the same. Although one is seemingly allowed to play different incarnations of these player-characters since dialogue allows you to respond to NPCs with different “attitudes” (generally a well mannered person, a jaded individual or a sarcastic jerk), it falls short of actual role-play since your dialogue choices themselves are very limited due to the need of having a single voice actor recorded for each possible in-game line. This ultimately results in writers being restricted with the amount of detail they’re allowed to add to dialogue and the player is constantly reminded they’re playing a ‘version’ of Nate/Nora; not their own character. You aren’t allowed to decide what role to play, since your role has already been decided.



    When writing any role-playing game with a story that can be manipulated and progressed at one’s own pace, one needs to take into account player-agency and the active choices that players would like to be able to make. This is a hard task since there are an infinite amount of possibilities with solving most problems which can lead to unforeseen solutions that could never be anticipated or implemented by one set of developers. However, good RPG game design allows the most likely logical decisions to be available for the sake of a variety of role-play styles and archetypes. If one intends to make a role-playing game then these are the mountains one needs to climb. Failing to do so results in a story and world that seems unreal or a character that seems forced to be inconsistent with their actions. This can also frustrate the player by having them make choices and decisions that are out of line with what they intended to create and role-play as or overlooks clever solutions the game does not allow them to choose.



    In short summery, the making of a good role-playing game story lies in giving the player enough of a background and motivation to understand their place in the world and to entice them to explore and experience it; developing their character even further in any way they can while staying immersed in their chosen role. Having too much detail leaves little for the player to do but experience a preset roller-coaster you hope will be a thrill for them. The origin of the player-character must allow one to easily rationalize new characters for new playthroughs despite perhaps starting with the same initial origin and goal until you’re allowed to develop them further as the story progresses. The latter, however, requires a world and story that reacts to the player’s actions when warranted or shows realistic indifference to their status as the player-character.


    Writing


    Everyone has their own opinion on what good writing is and isn’t for any genre of fiction. What some may regard as cliches others may regard as timeless themes and so forth. When it comes to writing stories that can be bent and molded into a certain desired outcome in an RPG, there comes the problem on how to make a compelling and memorable story where one is in many cases unable to predict the order of events, play-style or tastes. One can assemble those regarded as the greatest fiction writers today, but if they are unfamiliar with these realities or just the themes present in the game’s universe it can quickly fall short of the expectations of many players. There’s definitely a general framework of what makes a good story, but translating it into an RPG or even a Fallout setting is not a simple task if you’re unfamiliar with RPG design and Fallout.


    That all being said, Fallout 4 mimicked Fallout 3’s main story of finding a lost family member connected to the fate of the game world. There is nothing inherently wrong with such a framework for a story, but when one considers you’re writing the story for an RPG such origins as I’ve explained in the previous chapter are needlessly restrictive and repetitive. In both games the world depends on the player’s decisions in an unrealistic manner at times and yet the world seems to disregard you still despite your messiah-like actions. The player is both overwhelmed with the burdens thrown on them and underwhelmed with how little all their efforts actually impact the world. The foundations that the setting in Fallout 4 is built on are equally uninspired and at times Fallout 4 seems to be a self-parody of Fallout rather than a legitimate attempt at a good Fallout setting.


    The city of Boston in Fallout 4 has after 200 years remained a ruined city, but seemingly there are humans who remain living inside of it and have never bothered to bring order and stability; choosing to hold-up in shantytowns and live contently mere blocks away from Super Mutants and raiders in an infinite cycle of street violence. What these minor but prevalent factions of NPCs are fighting over or what the continuity factor of the existence of perpetual conflict and residence is (food, economy, bullets) is never explained or shown. If survival outside of Boston is simply more unpleasant then why is it so easy to farm and build water purifiers; something that was instrumental in the the main plot of Fallout 3?


    The main factions, which are regarded as the Minutemen, The Railroad, The Brotherhood of Steel and the Institute meanwhile add to the confusion on how this world and story was written. The Institute is without a doubt the primary faction of the story as they act as the reason for all 3 other factions existing in-game and form part of most of the main quest. However, despite all this presence and influence, their activities and motivations simply do not make sense and don’t seem to be going anywhere.


    As far as one can understand their goals from interacting with Institute characters, the 'evolution' and improvement of synths to be indistinguishable from humans simply ties to the fact that the Institute had decided their best course of action of controlling Boston required 'deep-cover' operatives such that they could covertly monitor and ‘manipulate’ the outside world (to protect themselves?). Having a plain robot pretending to be a bartender might just give the game away. It also stems from the fact that as intellectuals they would as a group naturally tend toward the improvement of their own capabilities.


    However, even viewing all of the Institute’s in-game lore as a whole and adding a few head-canons for ambiguous portions, it seems to be an incredibly forced plot-point to have such an incredibly high production rate of a very technical and resource demanding machine in a world which is starved both of resources and realistic infrastructure. From what I understood from the descriptions of Dr. Zimmer in Fallout 3 I had imagined the Institute and Boston in general to be a kind of a post-nuke civilization similar to the NCR but even more advanced, a type of ‘Vault-City’ like from Fallout 2.


    I imagined a region on the brink of almost complete recovery in which the tech of synths was a commonplace and accepted nuance of everyday life in Boston, and thanks to synths, the Commonwealth would represent a Fallout-esque “renaissance” of sorts. Unfortunately what we got given was more of the same (or worse) droll, raider infested, skeleton-adorned "wasteland" which shows pretty much zero sign of any real post-war recovery, let alone a burgeoning technological resurgence into a 'new paradigm' of post-war life like the Institute claims to want to achieve.


    Plainly put, this is very little imagination for a post apocalyptic setting, and I am of the belief that Fallout can be so much more.


    At first there's a bit of intrigue surrounding the Institute upon a first playthrough. They kidnapped the player-character's son, they continue to kidnap and replace people with synths, etc. But why? The highest point of the Institute is before you even know their true identity. It's ironic that the Institute only falls apart when you actually meet them. It's at that point when you learn that the Institute doesn't have any concrete goals. It's at that point that you learn that Bethesda didn't get to writing the actual reasons for the Institute's existence. But thank God they have android gorillas.


    It is quite obvious that Bethesda used Bladerunner as a reference and didn't really explore the reason for the existence of replicants in the Bladerunner universe. That, or they neglected to add a reason for replicants(synths) existing in Fallout after initially nerding over Bladerunner and rushing to implement their knock-off ‘Institute’ into the game. This may seem unnecessarily scathing towards Bethesda, but one can’t really see it any other way when one looks at how the Institute has been written into the game.


    In Bladerunner the explanation was that replicants served as an intelligent work-force for colonizing new worlds, fighting wars, serving as pleasure models, etc. In Bladerunner 2049 it is further expanded that the creator of replicants had developed a massive god-complex, so much so that he wanted to mimic the same achievement God had with humans.

    The synths in Fallout 4 are more of a science for the sake of science plot-hole. There's not much logic as to why they were made or even ‘how’ they could even be made considering the absolute state of infrastructure and resources in the Commonwealth of vanilla Fallout 4.


    Then you have the Railroad which is meant to reference the real-life Railroad activist network of 19th century America which helped slaves escape from the South. Again, one can understand the reference, which is charming, but why or how they can exist isn’t expanded upon much further other than they see Gen 3 synths as human and are willing to risk their lives in helping them escape the Institute’s control. Sure, one can understand that motivation in a vacuum, but it’s overly simplistic and neglects the reality of the world of Fallout 4 that we see. Slavery of humans is still rampant all across the wasteland, people have barely enough food to survive and can be shot dead if they just walk around the wrong block in Boston. With that in mind, why are there humans who bother to form an organization exclusive to the goal of freeing a specific kind of slave from a highly dangerous faction if they have so many other problems already?


    With the state that Boston is in, most humans should care about their own lives first before even considering being synth-rights activists. If Boston was much more stable and the quality of life allowed some idle intellectuals to debate the free-will and rights of synthetic humans I can see something like the Railroad forming, but not in the Fallout 4 we got.


    The Minutemen don’t need much said about them as they exist purely due to the need of introducing the settlement system to the player while the Brotherhood of Steel are in the game purely because it’s Fallout and by God they must be in every game.


    In summery when any faction is introduced or rewritten it must be done in a manner which takes into account the environment in which they exist and rationalizing their goals fully.


    With this all in mind I need to clarify that for this project at hand slightly more theme and narrative inspiration is being taken from the original Fallout than it’s sequel, Fallout 2. There’s a certain Pandora’s box which was opened with Fallout 2 as great a game as it was. The original Fallout was bleak, cold, unnerving and arguably had much more narrative consistency than any of its sequels. The player encountered characters that were mostly unhelpful, untrustworthy or themselves simply made cynical by the reality in which they lived. Fallout 2 explored a much larger variety of stories and themes than the original Fallout, which was good to an extent. However, due to the nature of its disjointed development many areas and characters seemed to be existing in slightly different versions of reality, and overall the world seemed more wild and wacky. Depending on where you are on the map in Fallout 2, the tone could completely change. From a game point of view, Fallout 2 was a better game, from a story and atmospheric point of view the original Fallout kept consistent themes and did not deviate for the sake of turning the world into a themepark of quirky wasteland humour and pop culture references. These ideas were definitely not as bloated as it became in later entries in the Fallout series and was still quite tolerable and enjoyable, but it started an unfortunate trend which Bethesda took to a new level.


    At the same time the main antagonists of Fallout 2, the Enclave, while an interesting faction to interact with, never really recaptured the mystique of The Master. Their plans and motivations were straightforward; kill everyone that’s not us so that we can take over. President Richardson didn’t have much depth as a character, he was just a parody of modern U.S presidents while Frank Horrigan took the mantle of end-game boss as just a “big and violent bad-guy”. The Enclave isn’t really a “believable” antagonistic faction unless you suspend your disbelief and enjoy them for what they are. The reason for this is because its motivations and goals can easily be classed as cartoonishly evil. This is all the more true when Bethesda, a studio more used to writing stories with objectively evil characters in fantasy settings, chose to shoehorn the Enclave into Fallout 3. No attempt was even made to develop them further or have them re-evaluate their goals, they were just bigger, badder and meaner.


    The Master was a terrifying but intriguing character and there was a method to his madness. He did not seek to change humans into mutants just because he thought mutants were physically better. The Master additionally justified his actions by claiming that humanity’s constant cycle of war will forever continue and eventually destroy us as long as there were conflicting goals among individuals. “War Never Changes” [roll credits]. He believed that “Unity” of hearts and minds could only come about if everyone became a mutant. Upon being informed that his ideas are flawed due to mutant sterility, he actually comes to terms with the cruelty he has caused seeing that it has been all for nothing. He had internalized an idea that he was doing a “necessary evil” and immediately regrets everything once shown the error of his ways. The Enclave’s reason for wanting to kill wastelanders is based on a knock-off idea of racial purity, but with radiation, and them just being power-hungry and entitled. Regardless, they were a fun faction to interact with and were well portrayed, even if one needs to overlook its slightly less than compelling motivations.


    Rewriting Fallout 4 isn’t just about fixing some inconsistencies or adding to what Bethesda has made. Rewriting Fallout 4 means completely re-evaluating the motivations and roles of various factions. The goals of factions need to make sense from their own perspectives and be justifiable. Meanwhile the overall atmosphere of the world and themes of the story need to be brought back down from the evil we imagine of fantasy, to the evil we know of reality. Fallout didn’t shy away from portraying just how cruel normal humans could be. The player was also not an incorruptible paladin of virtue as they could easily become addicted to drugs, pick up prostitutes, and even commit child murder. Slavery is rampant, gambling and gangsterism is everywhere and the NPCs one encounters project this overarching tone in their personalities and priorities. The theme most consistent with the post-apocalyptic genre is what can be drawn out of us when we’re brought to our very lowest. It should not be a story of fantastical adventures in radioactive dungeons, but a story that remains relevant throughout history; that of humanity’s innate tendency to be violent, selfish and greedy. Small moments of light-heartedness and humility will be much more memorable and impactful in such a grim world.


    “I . . . don’t think I can continue. Continue? To have done the things I have done in the name of progress and healing. It was madness. I can see that now. Madness. Madness? There is no hope. Leave now, leave while you still have hope.” - The Master


    Narrative Vision


    New Inspiration


    Back in 1997, Fallout was a real trailblazer when it came to how RPGs were viewed. Most RPGs had previously been limited to fantasy settings, and it’s spiritual predecessor, Wasteland, was something of an oddity for its time. Fallout heavily contributed to the popularization of the post-apocalyptic genre in video games, which has led to many such titles appearing in the 2000s and 2010s.


    Despite this Fallout still stands out today specifically because its style of representing the post-apocalypse is very distinct. The look of the pre-war world was retro-futuristic and atompunk. After the Great War all of this had been given a gritty and robust paint-job that embodies the look that the series has been known for in its main line of games from Fallout 1 through to 4.


    That being said, this style should not dictate what fits and what doesn’t. While obviously one should be using these elements as a baseline for any Fallout setting, there have been instances where different styles have been experimented with in order to compliment the already charming look of Fallout. Fallout New Vegas combined the traditional Fallout aesthetic with components more prevalent in the Wild Western genre. It is this small detail which allows it to still fit into the main line of games while still providing something that feels new and interesting. Fallout New Vegas is largely regarded as having stayed true to the Fallout aesthetic many fans have grown to love despite maybe taking more inspiration from ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ than it did from ‘Mad Max’. It only felt fitting, considering the area in which Fallout New Vegas took place.


    At the same time one of the main factions in New Vegas is modeled after the Roman Empire in not only philosophy, but style and culture. When something of this nature was first suggested during the development of Van Buren, it may have initially seemed downright silly. However, Caesar’s legion is firmly kept grounded enough in the reality of the Fallout universe that the vast majority of fans can’t really imagine Fallout New Vegas without them despite the odd premise. An interesting idea that seemed out of place was made to fit, and fit well.


    This leads one back to the original point that was made in the introduction. This point is that one should not be afraid to go into uncharted territory when it comes to the developing universe and cultures of Fallout. The world doesn’t stay destroyed forever and realistically cultures do not remain static and homogeneous across centuries and entire geographical regions. There comes a point where one needs to consider how humanity remakes itself in the post-apocalyptic world as time continues to advance. This is the part where a writer or designer has the opportunity to be creative as long as they keep to the original tenets of Fallout and frame new ideas around them and the game’s already established lore. Caesar’s Legion didn’t just pop out of nowhere as an oddity for the sake of an oddity, it’s a large collection of tribes brought under the iron-fisted rule of a highly intelligent and ruthless man. This man chose to model his empire after Rome due to their success in assimilating cultures and saw it as a better model for rebuilding the Wasteland and tempering humanity than simply copying the Old World United States like the NCR did. All of this has allowed the Legion to not feel out of place and allowed it to be a truly unique faction presenting something new and nuanced that still fits into the world of Fallout.


    With that in mind, consider what some developers in Bethesda seem to have been flirting with during Fallout 4’s development. There are clear signs in Fallout 4’s writing and design of the Institute that there was a group of developers who wanted to add a certain amount of cyberpunk elements. I am unaware who these developers were, but it’s hard to ignore what they managed to implement despite Bethesda’s “play it safe” formula present throughout the rest of the game’s design of matching Fallout 3 as much as possible. The signs are unmistakable and hiding in plain sight. The idea of synths is clearly lifted from Bladerunner, while Courser uniforms and Memory Loungers look conspicuously like something straight out of The Matrix. These things, however, aren’t given more thought and unfortunately seem out of place in the more traditional Fallout setting that was presented. There wasn't an attempt (or it was never entertained) to marry the two styles into something that could have been truly fascinating and unique. One is just kind of peaking its head while the normal retro-futurism/atompunk style isn’t much different from what we’re familiar with from Fallout 3 and the older games.


    Cyberpunk isn’t really just limited to fancy clothes or high tech gadgets though. There are certain themes and narratives that get packaged along with it. Bladerunner is an exploration of the nature of identity of humanity in a world where concepts like that have been rendered dubious by the advances in technology, as an example. Cyberpunk borrows many elements from Noir fiction, in particular the idea of a world of ambiguous morality. This doesn’t always need to result in a dystopian setting, there exists a space for heterotopias to exist in cyberpunk as well. It’s not so much about having a world that oppresses its inhabitants, but more about having a world that is nuanced in how it questions the morality of progress.


    You might very likely be thinking that attempting to join Fallout with cyberpunk may be problematic due to the technology gap. However, advance technology on its own is not all that relevant to cyberpunk. Rather, it is when technology intersects with the needs of humanity that it becomes relevant. It is the on-going cultural mix of technology that’s important, not the technology itself.


    Taking narrative inspiration from cyberpunk also compliments the type of characters we want players to be able to create and fully role-play as. The protagonist in a cyberpunk story is very similar to the nature of the protagonist of the Noir genre. Their relationship with law and morality is kept ambiguous, which will in turn grant greater freedom for the player to decide their characters motivations and alignment in relation to the world around them.


    Additionally, cyberpunk presents the idea that the protagonist must endure suffering, either through pain or loss of freedom. In order to give the player an initial goal that they see as worthwhile in pursuing, there will indeed be consequences for opposing the the goal against the wishes of an authority. However, if the player so chooses, they may enter a conflict with this authority in an attempt to obtain freedom or alternatively appease it. What this all entails will be explained in a later section.


    Cyberpunk also has a theme of “isolation” attached to it, but not in the traditional sense of the word. As society becomes more complex and the “system” of human civilization continues to outpace and dwarf the reality of the individual, one is made to feel very small and alone in the grander scheme of the future. Fallout 4 can make a character feel small by making them seem weak and powerless against the dangerous wasteland - until they manage to level up to become a god and seemingly act as the messiah of the world. Cyberpunk isolation is a different type, one that is fueled by the idea that the world doesn’t wait around for the individual, and that there are greater trends seemingly out of the protagonist’s control regardless of how powerful a fighter they are.


    All these components of cyberpunk form the trinity of postmodern literature, Man vs Technology, Man vs Reality and Man vs Authority. It’s not all necessarily about flashy techno-fashion, wonder-machines, flying sports cars or even the “future” in general. Rather, it’s about -today’s- social ills viewed from a different perspective. It’s the opposite of fantasy escapism since it’s seemingly grounded in our reality. Messages it attempts to communicate are more convincing and digestible than a lot of other genres due to its exploration of issues that we’re already experiencing. These “evils” that we know exist, but are intrinsic to the human condition and can’t be vanquished with an enchanted sword.


    Back when Fallout first introduced its unique style of post-nuke retro-futurism it was something that was very effective in conveying a message about blind optimism and faith in the future at the turn of the 21st century. Unfortunately, Fallout itself has outgrown its own original presentation with each subsequent release. This style has been parodied to death and the message lost with it. However, it can be brought back to relevance by taking elements from other contemporary genres and styles in order to create a truly fascinating narrative that respects the Fallout Universe.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019