Arcanum vs Fallout

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by 5545Trey, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. AskWazzup

    AskWazzup Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Aug 21, 2008
    I kind of agree, though i do really like the art direction and setting of Fallout world, but only in the Fallout games. The one that bethesda made - not so much. Now Fallout with Fallout tactics combat system would be the ultimate prize.

    Now arnacum was a potential hall of famer, the world, the story and the unique characters you could make. Alas, much like Torment, the combat part of the game is really lacking. After some levels you can pretty much kill everyone, though i have to hand it to them, kicking an opponent to oblivion is pretty funny.
  2. lazlolazlo

    lazlolazlo First time out of the vault

    Apr 17, 2012
    I've never found Arcanum to be more than an mediocre mess. The music is bad and monotone, the setting not so interesting, the writing and companions are also very OKish. I understand that many people find the options and multiple solutions brilliant, but not even that can save it for beeing a complete and utter mess. If Arcanum would have the combat of ToEE and writing of Bloodlines, it would easily be the one of the best games ever, now it's just a mediocre and overhyped game (by some members on RPG Codex) despite having severe flaws. It's funny how Fallout, BG2 and Torment was praised by every critic where as Arcanum was not.

    To this date, Arcanum is the worst RPG i've ever finished!
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  3. SuAside

    SuAside Testament to the ghoul lifespan

    May 27, 2004
    Fallout is better, but Arcanum is still friggin' great. The open world, the choices, the quests & sidequests,...
    Biggest problem is that they tried to do too much. Both turnbased & real time, quick travel & world travel,... It becomes very hard to balance that.

    Then you really didn't try hard enough. Get two DEX rings (charged ring), make your own bullets (salpeter & coal iirc), craft your own guns, etc. Works well enough. Especially if you include some stun grenades.
    Ranged characters at least don't break their guns fighting golems. :)

    I think the most unbalanced chars are Half-Ogre War Mage (harm, fireflash & disintegrate + melee) & high dex high str tech char with 2 Charged Rings & Pyrotechnic Axe (doesn't get damaged when hitting stone).

    I'm inclined to tar & feather you and run you out of town, lazlo.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  4. alec

    alec White heterosexual male Orderite

    May 21, 2003
    Fallout > Arcanum > Fallout 2

    Arcanum really excels in size (the gameworld is huuuuuuuge) and character creation. And it's nice that tech characters can craft a gazillion things.

    Storywise, Fallout is simply the best of the three. No real competition there.

    I would like Arcanum even better if it would actually run on Windows 8 :evil:
  5. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Gyro Captain

    Dec 11, 2013
    You can get Arcanum to run on Windows 8! I got it up and running about a month ago. It opens in a nice little window on my desktop. Let me know if you need help :)

    Fallout is head and shoulders above Arcanum, imo, for the reasons other posters listed. Graphically, I thought the game was pretty bland. Combat is a frustrating mess of critical misses and dropped and broken weapons - unless you are a mage, in which case you just point and click and watch everyone die. Although Arcanum does an excellent job of exploring its premise (what if a D&D fantasy world went through an industrial revolution?), this premise is, at least for me, not terribly interesting at the end of the day, although admittedly I am not that into Tolkienesque tropes of elves, dwarves, orcs, etc. (I am still going to give Baldur's Gate and Planescape Torment a try based on the high praise they have received here and elsewhere). Still, the world is portrayed with a lot of depth and consistency, and both the mechanics and the philosophical underpinnings of the magic/technology divide were well handled. I liked how the passage of time was handled as well, and got a kick out of reading the newspaper headlines in Tarant.

    Arcanum does really shine when it comes to its writing; the number of choices and dialogue available to the player are fantastic and almost make up for the (to me) lackluster setting. Probably my favorite build so far has been a "Diplomage" (high Charisma, high Willpower, high Intelligence), simply because it allows me to get through the terrible combat without too much trouble and to get the most out of dialogue options.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  6. lazlolazlo

    lazlolazlo First time out of the vault

    Apr 17, 2012
    Ain't gonna happen bub.

    I agree that Arcanum is the closest cRPG to a PnP experience, but choices and options, both character customisation and how you complete quests and how the world reacts to it doesn't matter unless the writing, music, athomphere, combat and the setting is well done, and this is where Arcanum fail to deliver. Now i'm not saying that Arcanum is a bad game, but it's definitely not a great game. There are to many flaws and bad design for it to be enjoyable. The combat is utterly shit, it's the worst combat of any RPG, even more tedious than Planescape. The character progression gives an illusion of beeing deep, when some skills, attributes might sound interesting on paper, but is gonna serverly punish the player (a few are fantastic and the rest pretty much useless). The lack of allowing you to access the woldmap at any given place is frustrating, the interface is horrible, as the praphics. The setting sound intriguing, but is actually poorly executed. In fact Arcanum, and the approach the dev took is very shallow, they just placed a fantasy setting in a time when a industrial revolution takes place, with every fantasy race playing a different stereotype. Sure the game present you with multiple options how to complete quests, but again a game needs more to be enjoyable. The writing is just very mediocre, in every way, and the music is neither beautiful or memorable at all.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  7. Geech

    Geech It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Dec 2, 2008
    I did all of this, except for the charged rings which I think I hadn't thought of at the time, and the stun grenades, which I felt bad about using because they were broken.

    Compared to a Mage or a pure melee build, it requires a lot of complexity and is extremely slow to get going. Going this route requires investing in intelligence, dex, gunsmithing, chemicals and explosives. Sure you can buy the manuals instead of spending the skill points, but that's also expensive in the early game and complicates the already finicky inventory management. On top of that, even after being able to make my own bullets, I constantly found myself searching every trashcan in the desperate hope of finding the necessary components.

    When you try to manage your secondary skills as well, like diplomacy, well forget about it. It's a very slow build to get going in the early game, and that's just not fun when I can drop a couple points in melee, buy a rapier, and be a competent fighter from day one. A harm spamming mage is even more potent, with the added benefit of probably advancing much faster than the melee build.
  8. alec

    alec White heterosexual male Orderite

    May 21, 2003
    I know it's possible, but after trying three different methods mentioned on the Arcanum fora over at the House of Lords, I basically gave up. There was someone who mentioned I needed to download some .dll files to replace the ones in the game directory, but it seemed like such a hassle. Maybe later...
  9. Endocore

    Endocore Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Mar 14, 2010
    In pondering the question "Fallout vs Arcanum," I think one must clarify-- "versus" in what context? According to what criteria?

    I think Fallout is a better game, but Arcanum is a better role-playing game.

    A key criteria for assessing role-playing games is the extent to which the player, rather than the designer, influences the narrative. A good role-playing game should resemble a playground or toy room in a kindergarten-- presenting a wide variety of options for engagement. In a school, some children will prefer to draw pictures with a finger-painting set, others will entertain themselves by building castles with wooden blocks, while yet others prefer to shoot marbles, and so forth. The point here is less that different play options are available-- the point is that different children will have very different reasons for wanting to play any game at all. The variety of options (paint set, blocks, marbles) is an attempt to encourage all the children to explore their individual motivations (e.g. "I like to ponder aesthetics by painting rather than compete in a contest of hand-eye coordination by shooting marbles") rather than to teach them Newtonian physics (through marble-shooting) or the engineering significance of load-bearing structures (by arranging wooden blocks).

    Any thoughtful game should strive to offer numerous opportunities for emergent gameplay-- play in which the player engages in activities satisfying to himself but which were likely not considered as fundamental features or functions by the designer. A well-made role-playing game, on the other hand, should strive for a much more difficult standard-- providing a maximum flexibility for emergent narratives to give meaning or purpose to the player-character avatar's activities as well as emergent gameplay representing the actions of the avatar in the game-world. For example, if I play Super Mario I may find opportunities for emergent gameplay in that I may strive to kill all Koopas or collect all possible coins, but the game's narrative solicits very little player input. Mario must rescue Princess Toadstool-- that's what Mario is doing, and that's all he'll ever do. A better example would be an adventure game in which one must gain access to a guarded room; a well-made adventure game would provide opportunities to sneak past the guard, overpower the guard, bribe the guard, or charm the guard, all at the player's discretion. Good computer role-playing games, on the other hand, should insofar as feasible resemble table-top games with human participants exercising their imaginations. For example if the game-master in a table-top game has prepared a "dungeon" scenario but the players are not interested in entering the dungeon and prefer to explore a nearby wilderness, there's no problem (at least for a well-prepared game-master)-- though in a sense the narrative will turn out very differently than the game-master imagined, since the ultimate objective of the game is to entertain the participants then the table-top game provides, with its flexibility, maximum opportunities for accomplishing that objective. Mario, on the other hand, can never decide he's had it with Princess Toadstool, and would instead prefer to move to New Zealand and marry Xena the Warrior Princess.

    With its inexorably linear plot and stifling time-limits, Fallout fails in several ways to offer the flexibility required of a truly outstanding role-playing game. The game is simply not open-ended enough; opportunities for the player to disregard the provided narrative in favor of a new, private narrative more satisfying that particular player are inadequate in comparison to Arcanum. Yet Fallout is an outstanding game, in that its mechanics are well-designed and optimized to provide the desired experience (flexible characterization and development of the player-character, turn-based combat, and so forth).

    This is incidentally why I believe Fallout 2 is a better role-playing game than Fallout. The larger, more diverse world offers more opportunities for the player-character to simply "wander the wasteland with nothing but a shotgun, getting into random adventures like Mad Max" as one once commonly-expressed sentiment in NMA days of yore put the matter. Arroyo? GECK? Who cares. It's my game and my character is going to live whatever life he or she wants (within at least some limits, of course).

    In contrast to Fallout or even Fallout 2, Arcanum has a stipulated plot so minimal that the core narrative is nearly incoherent. The pathetic coward-god, Nasrudin, has grown too lazy to exercise his power and would like the player-character to help him. In return, he offers-- nothing, except perhaps a "pretty please, with sugar on top." Yet this nonsensical plot works to accentuate the virtues of Arcanum, by nearly insisting that the player construct one or more private narratives of his own in order to make sense of any particular playthrough.

    Arcanum certainly has profound problems in terms of mechanics and the implementation of mechanics-- for example, the oft-mentioned and quite significant inadequacies of the combat system, which avidly embraces mediocrity rather than striving to be either a first-rate turn-based system or a first-rate real-time system. Yet I think other aspects of the game's mechanics are often wrongly maligned. For example, we often hear that "magic is overpowered and unbalances everything" during Arcanum play. This simply isn't true-- I regularly play technologist characters in Arcanum, as much as possible simply ignoring the magical side of the game, and each time I play Arcanum I enjoy a highly satifsying game with such an approach. This, then, is in fact a virtue of Arcanum's mechanics: Don't like magic? Don't use it, and have a fine playthrough anyway.

    In an important sense, the truest test of a good role-playing game is the extent to which players may comprehensively subvert the intentions of the designers yet have a jolly good time anyway. The most vital wisdom divined by philosophers since the time of Immanuel Kant is: all is interpolation. We see something azure-- yet no object is azure because there is no "azure," there is only light which changes from one frequency to another as it is partially absorbed and partially reflected by some object and then refracts again in our eyeballs. "Azure" describes an experience of ours-- nothing more. All we truly perceive is light, and that one or more objects exist which may have refracted that light is but a theory (albeit a well-supported theory) of ours. Likewise when we read a book, we can never truly know what ideas the writer meant to express-- we can only know what ideas the book inspired in our own thoughts. For example, we may well admire and identify with the character who, to the writer, was unambiguously the scorned villain of the piece, yet enjoy the book all the same without feeling scolded ourselves. More fundamentally, unless we suppose we can communicate via ESP or gnosis then both the medium of words and the act of perceiving those words in a discrete circumstance interpolate the transference of ideas between writer and reader. Three participants-- writer, medium, and reader-- are simultaneously "Author." A less subtle way to express this idea may be: If The Matrix is sufficiently well-constructed, we never become aware of its existence-- but is then the meaning of our lives what we experienced, or instead what we never experienced? Good role-playing games embrace and facilitate this insight in practical ways. Good rpg design encourages player initiative, which is but a another way of saying good rpg design encourages player subversion. Engaging rpg gameplay is interpolation, not revelation. Another way to express this idea may be: many of us (here at a crpg forum) are more likely to enjoy a conversation than a lecture.

    The primary weakness of Arcanum is that it does not go far enough in providing the flexible framework which is in fact the fundamental design principle of the game. Consider the vast expanses of nearly empty land on the northern portion of the world map. A better Arcanum (one provided more development time and a larger budget) would have filled that area with several towns and adventure areas completely unrelated to the core Bates-Nasrudin plot for player-characters who wish to ignore such lofty events and prefer instead to simply seek a new, interesting life for themselves in the profound game-world. In most playthroughs of Arcanum, my characters end up as artisans trying to build a fortune using the game's technology-crafting system rather than spending any time at all worrying about charging into the Void to most likely (according to Nasrudin's vagaries in the most commonly-expressed expositions players are likely to encounter) suffer ignominous damnation.

    My point, then, is that if we ask "Is game X good?" what we should really be asking instead is: "Is game X good at doing Y? And if game X clearly intends to offer experience Z, how well is that intention expressed and received?" If Fallout intends to offer a somewhat different experience than Arcanum, then comparisons become more difficult, and subjective considerations of player temperment and personal taste must of course enter into such matters.

    There's a reason bigwigs at Acme Megagames Inc, with their talk of how "our players prefer designed experiences to unstructured free association" make the big bucks-- they do indeed have their fingers on the pulses of a significant portion of the gaming medium's audience. Furthermore, players who prefer more pervasively designed experiences to the alternative have nothing of which they ought be ashamed. The point of playing games at all is to have fun-- so whether one prefers Fallout to Arcanum or vice-versa is in the end much less important than the fact that both games exist and thereby provide a diversity of options for variegated fun.
    • [Like] [Like] x 2
  10. naossano

    naossano So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 19, 2006
    I don't think filler content is a requirement to be a proper RPG.
    I would even say it could hurt the game if the fillers clearly outnumber the relevant contents.
    It could feel like the designers forgot to make those places/characters/events relevants.

    Also, i don't support the theory of player ignoring the main quest being a valid path.
    Paper RPG, computer RPG, IMO, have goals. Otherwise, you game would never end. There are no immortal game-master. At one point or another, you will have to finish the quest started if you want to play another game. Otherwise, you might just play a sandbox game like GTA or Skyrim.
    Also, the computer RPG being a finished product, you cannot have infinite narratives. You have not only to make choices on what narratives are relevant, but provide enough way to move forward on that narratives, including picking side, being good/bad, being efficient/unskilled, diplomat/hiding/fighting, lucky/unlucky, straightfoward/thinking outside of the Box. If they create too much narratives that aren't relevant to the main quest, they might risk making that main quest not open-ended enough, or not provide enough option or C&C for the narratives/quests they provides. And if they don't put narratives at all in some places, better play an Hack'n'slash than an RPG with proper narratives options.

    Also, the Fo1 main quest is more open-ended that Fo2, IMO.
    You could destroy the Unity stronghold without meeting the bosses or killing anyone, you could kill both boss, you could make the Master kill himself, you could join the Unity, you could stop them, but too late and have the super-mutants army invade the Wasteland, even if you killed the Master. It is more open-ended that many other games. In Fo2, you will have to kill Horrigan and self-destruct the Oil Rig if you want to leave it. But in the end, i think that FoNV did the best job with open-ended main quest, as there are dozens of different valid paths, all relevants to the main quest. At the same time, you aren't much bothered by fillers.
  11. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Gyro Captain

    Dec 11, 2013
    I used the version available at - no additional downloads required. You do need to change the directory name of a particular file and make sure you are running the program in compatibility mode, but otherwise it should work like a charm (or a well-oiled piece of clockwork). PM me if you change your mind.

    Wow. :clap:

    This is a masterful exposition on both Fallout and Arcanum, as well as the nature of gaming. Nice how you worked in some epistemology as well.
  12. lazlolazlo

    lazlolazlo First time out of the vault

    Apr 17, 2012
    Actually you find Fallout the better game, but belive that Arcanum offers more options, and is less linear then Fallout. Nonlinearity, and giving the player the option to complete quest in multiple ways doesn't make a RPG good, it simply gives the player freedom, and the illusion of him/her making his/her own decisions. If we, the gamers don't like what's given to us; setting, combat, writing, environment, music, NPCs, quests (motivation), graphics (art style), character customisation, it doesn't matter that the game excels at one thing.
  13. Endocore

    Endocore Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Mar 14, 2010
    Whatever groovy ideas a designer may have, he's only one man-- and however generally appealing his ideas may be, they won't engage everyone. Why then limit oneself-- "like my ideas, or don't play my game"-- unnecessarily? Designing with emergent gameplay in mind at all times doesn't take much longer than regular "step 1, step 2, step n" design, with the inestimable gain that by inviting each player to join the designer to "author" the game, player satisfaction with the end result is likely to be broad and deep. In most cases, designers who favor linearity do so only because of hubris ("What I wrote is so fantastic and awesome, embellishing or allowing others to do so would only dilute my genius!") or (much more commonly) lack of resources rather than any inherent desirability of such an approach.

    For me, the games I like most are those that maximize my freedom as a player-- because I know much better than anyone else what particular sort of game I want to play (as does each individual player). My point was that in the case of Arcanum, the primary plot approaches such a radical degree of ambiguity that in fact an infinity of narratives is possible-- because each player must largely provide his own private narrative.
  14. BigBoss

    BigBoss Your Local Scrub

    Dec 24, 2012
    Also from that came Interplay/BIS notorious ability to update/patch a game only once or twice after it was finished, and then leave it alone entirely no matter how many bugs it still has.

    I can't tell you how much of a problem it was getting some of my games (since I grew up in the 90's, the oldest game I have is dated like 03 or 04 for the PC) to run on Windows 8. Hours upon hours of trying new ways to get the game running properly and reading through countless forums and ideas of how to do it. Games I surprisingly had no problems with? Diablo 2, Star Wars: KOTOR, Shogun: Total War 1 (wish I could put the first Medieval Total War here, but I can't) Age of Empires II, Arena/Daggerfall (Arena pissed me off to much to play it longer than a few days though), Baldur's Gate 1-2 and a few more.

    Games I wish I could have got running properly but had to fix problem after problem: Diablo I, Fallout 1 & 2 (I had running smooth for a while, until suddenly my PC started lagging every 20 minutes or so, which wasn't that frustrating at all but I still haven't fixed the problem. I believe it to be a hardware problem, one I don't have the cash or time to fix) Old Command & Conquer/Red Alert games, and the old Empire Earth games.

    I've also been playing the Emulators lately, and found a few which run very smoothly on Windows 8. Like for the MSX 1 and 2 I found blueMSX. I've been playing Metal Gear 1 and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake on the MSX, and after patching them with an English Patch made by fans, I've got to say it's way better than the one's they released on the PlayStation. I remember my old MSX-2 computer. We sold it in 2005 for ten bucks at a yard sale. Even in the 90's it was a great system.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  15. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    You say that about a completely common game support system throughout the 90s as if it was unique to Interplay... The proliferation of downloadable updates was years away during the late 90s, and it was uncommon for games to get patched more than once or twice, no matter what state they were released in. Games like Starcraft were a TOTAL anomaly in how frequently they were patched to address issues. Even Diablo was patched very sparingly, with most of its crippling exploits and glitches left completely intact. That's just the way it was, back then. Interplay was not different in any way in this regard.
  16. Sub-Human

    Sub-Human -

    May 31, 2011
    I found Arcanum to be too combat-oriented and, at times, restrictive. Might have been the setting, but I felt like I had to play as a very particular character who looked for lost rings in city sewers or stole paintings.
  17. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Half-way Through My Half-life

    Nov 26, 2007
    It's true... And in Troika's case, with Temple, they had another patch that Activision forbade them to release. Activision had let the support staff go at that point, and would not allow a resurgence of tech support calls for a new patch.