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Fallout tidbits 01-2014

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Fallout tidbits
The Fallout tidbits are a summary of various minor articles and newsbits concerning Fallout games.
If you want to propose a link to be included in the next tidbit post, simply post it in a comment under this one.

It's a slow time in Fallout news and certainly not enough to warrant a separate newspost for each. Here's a quick summary of the latest developments, starting with the most important Fallout 4 information.

→ continue reading...

Curse partners up with Bethesda for The Elder Scrolls Online beta key giveaway

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While we normally don't post about The Elder Scrolls series, this is something well worth noting. Curse.com, our host, has partnered with Bethesda Softworks for an exclusive beta key giveaway for their new MMO game. That's right, Curse is the only place where you can obtain a beta key for The Elder Scrolls Online.

The giveaway is available under this address. A word of explanation: For the first two days, the giveaway is limited to Curse Premium account holders. But don't worry, after these 48 hours, the giveaway is free and open to all for the next five days.

Going to Tamriel? Make sure to follow our Facebook feed to know when the giveaway clears.

Chris Avellone interview at RPGamer

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RPGamer's Johnathan Stringer interviews Chris Avellone about his career and what games he would love to make. Naturally, a large part of the interview on Fallout series: Van Buren (and the respective PnP game), Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas.

JS: Changing gears to the Fallout series, you were working on Van Buren which was to become Fallout 3.

CA: Ah yes, good ol' Van Buren!

JS: Yes, there is not really a lot known about this game, how far along were you in development?

CA: Well, I should start off by saying Van Buren went through two stages. One was a very long pre-production period where I was basically the only one working on it for about three to three and a half years. Then Baldur's Gate III was cancelled at Interplay, and the entire Baldur's Gate III team moved on to Van Buren. A few months later, I left Interplay, and Josh Sawyer took over the second iteration of Van Buren. So, for the first part of Van Buren, I was doing area design, pen & paper testing, and checking out mechanics like trying to figure out how ghouls would work as a player character race and super mutants and such. So yeah, there were a lot of mechanics development, a lot of storyline development, and area development. But in terms of actual gameplay aspect, I believe that the vertical slice/demo done proving out some of the basic navigation mechanics were as far as it went, and there were a lot of area design documents. But Van Buren hadn't gone much beyond that and would probably be more of a question for Josh.

JS: Van Buren looked to have an isometric view and gameplay style as was in the first two Fallouts, were you bitter at all about how that plan was cancelled and eventually turned into a 1st or 3rd person shooter RPG? And, though it was well received, do you think the series should have stayed in that same isometric view style?

CA: I am not bitter at all. Actually, Fallout 3 wasn't ever the reason Van Buren was cancelled. Van Buren was cancelled because management didn't feel it was a viable title compared to console titles, and Van Buren was going along the lines of just being a PC only title. Which, you know, had been the case for quite some time before they decided to cancel it. So, I am a little upset they reached that decision somewhat late, but my disappointment is geared towards Interplay's decision and not anything related to future Fallout installments.

I do think Bethesda had a huge challenge with Fallout 3 because they had to remind people what Fallout was, and they had to reintroduce people to the world, which I thought they did a really great job with it. I think, for example, you growing up as a vault dweller, and how they handled that, was a good introduction to the world. I liked their open world mechanics as I think exploration is a big part of the Fallout universe and Fallout 3 did a really great job of doing that. So yeah, I played Fallout 3 and really enjoyed it a lot, and I played the DLCs and enjoyed those, and am really happy to see where they take Fallout in the future.

JS: Well you must have liked Fallout 3 as you worked on the follow up Fallout: New Vegas. Were there some elements of Van Buren that found their way into New Vegas?

CA: Yes! There were so many that crept in. And oddly enough, a lot of it came out of the pen & paper sessions that we were running at Interplay. A lot of the personal conflicts the player characters were having in those sessions that I was game mastering actually ended up as plot lines in New Vegas. Like, the whole idea of the Stealth Boy technology can drive super-mutants and nightkin insane was something we had running in the pen & paper campaign. The Big Empty that we had for Oldworld Blues, that was also a part of Van Buren, although it was more like a military bootcamp in that version. We had the Hoover Dam, and it was set up like this whole floating city that had been built around the dam on one side, and that was moved into New Vegas, although it evolved into a different fashion. We just had a whole bunch of stuff from Van Buren that we brought over into New Vegas, though it just ended up changing design-wise over time, and evolving into cooler and better things.

Source: RPGamer via RPGWatch

Partnership with ShoddyCast's Fallout Lore series

We are proud to announce that, thanks to our very own Tagaziel, starting from Chapter 3: Brotherhood of Steel (West Coast) The Vault is the official fact checking partner of ShoddyCast's wonderful Fallout Lore webseries. We are certain that with this partnership the series will grow even better. Below you can watch the latest episode. Please like it. :)

And one more little thing. As you may have noticed, the main page once again features the link to our Google+ page. The page is once again active and is now merged with our YouTube channel. So add it to your circles and give it +1. Thanks. :)

Fallout 3 no longer needs GfWL codes on Steam

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According to Gstaff, Global Community Lead, the Fallout 3 update removed the need to activate GfWL codes for Fallout 3 copies purchased on Steam:

Steam simply removed the need to activate GFWL codes when purchasing Fallout 3 on Steam.

Original story

As Joystiq reports, key elements of Fallout 3's integration with Games for Windows Live were removed by a recent Steam update. These are SupportsCDKeyCopyToClipboard, ShowCDKeyOnLaunch, and entries concerning legacy key registration.

Apparently, these are enough to shoot the kneecaps off of Microsoft's dying DRM scheme. Bethesda has yet to issue a statement on the matter or remove the GfWL client from the game entirely, as it will still be installed along with the game on Steam.

Source: Joystiq

Fallout 1, 2 and Tactics removed from GOG

Sadly, Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics have been removed from the GOG.com catalogue due to the settlement of the Bethesda vs. Interplay lawsuit. The rights to the classic games are now entirely owned by Bethesda. We're still hoping they might re-release them in the future! The games can still be downloaded if you purchased them before.

Source: GOG.com

Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics for FREE

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If you never played the classic Fallout games, now you have no excuse not to play them. GOG.com offers Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics completely free for the next 48 hours. All you need to do is register an account. Go!

Kotaku leaks apparent Fallout 4 casting call

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Kotaku leaked documents that allegedly cover a casting call for Fallout 4. The contents of the documents released by Kotaku are fairly interesting, though they raise a couple of questions:

  1. A voiced main character has never been included in Bethesda Game Studios', except for Redguard.
  2. This would be the first game (excluding Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel) where the intro narration is not read by Ron Perlman, uncharacteristically for Fallout.
  3. How did the author confirm the authenticity of documents if Bethesda declined to comment?

As usual, we encourage skepticism. This may be legit or this may be the author of thesurvivor2299.com hoax releasing their script to Kotaku. Stay tuned for more information.

Casting 01.png Casting 02.png

In the meantime, we hear the Wasteland 2 beta is here...

Survivor2299 was a hoax

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After nearly a month of the Fallout fan base buzzing about with rumors about a new Fallout game from a mysterious web address, The Survivor 2299 has taken a turn, likely to throw the fan base – redditors especially – into a riotous uproar.

On December 6, 2013, five days before the countdown was scheduled to end, the site initially produced a YouTube video to Rick Astely's "Never Gonna Give You Up", but was soon updated to a non-cryptic "THAT'S IT TUNNEL SNAKES" and a YouTube remix of Butch DeLoria's catchphrase, "Tunnel Snakes rule!" Soon after, the website linked to another YouTube video; this time, a single violin, dismally lamenting. The site also thanks r/Fallout, "the most amazing community on reddit." The website was constantly re-updating, taking the blame off people that could be construed as having been involved in the openly admitted hoax. Among these pardoned are YouTube user 'Elevated Level', Butch DeLoria, Polish web designer Pytor, Liam Neeson and creator of tunnelsnakesrule.com

Whether you were hanging on the website's every sporadic update or speculated it was a hoax from the beginning, we all learned a valuable lesson: always take too-good-to-be-true developments with a grain of salt. Oh, and also that the Tunnel Snakes apparently rule.

The Survivor 2299 update - Nothing Happened

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As you may have noted, the first countdown on the Survivor website ended. That must be exciting, right? Well, not quite.

KVNGR REV ALPHA PPS VT PIZ UHMYLPVOQ CM XHWMZP. NBJB SPI'F BYQS QT D'Y BYFGEOB FI VQDYL MAQ. -NGQHT 5120- Nuclear winter has come

The above message appeared on the site, after it crashed and burned. The message has been decoded by /r/fallout and means:

THE INSTITUTE IS SEALED. THEY WON'T HELP US I'M HEADING TO BLACK ROW. -TBNLS

There is also a new Morse code:

Calling all stations, calling all stations, calling all stations. This is Overseer of Vault 119. Emergency. Unknown enemy. SOS SOS SOS. Vault 119. Quabbin. 7667. SOS SOS SOS. Vault 119. Quabbin. 7667. Enemy unkno-

Such drama. Cue thunder clap.

The Fallout 4 European trademark is a hoax

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As CVG reports, the Fallout 4 European trademark registration is apparently a hoax and has been removed from the OHIM website. It seems we'll have to wait for our Fallout 4 a while longer.

Source: CVG via No Mutants Allowed

The Survivor 2299 update - Quabbin Reservoir

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Hello Vault Dwellers. We have some updates for you on the messages posted on The Survivor 2299. This time they are a bit trickier, but there's nothing that could prevent real Fallout fans from getting new information on so hoped-for sequel. Even if there is a strong chance that those rumors are just a hoax.

Today, the site has a new message and a Morse code.

Nuclear winter is coming in 6days 13h 29m 00s [December 1st]

Bridgeport this is Concord - Quabbin is hit - I repeat - Quabbin is hit.

Seems like the teasing will continue until the countdown ends. Check our map for locations referenced by the website.

Yesterday, The Survivor's main page featured a new cipher message:

VGNR [CAP] – ***? – LET- GRZ XJG XRS FWZZR GOS UIEG SII GZVZI || GRZ SAW XRS SAZZ XJG DZVB GRZ XUJIZ

This code was not as easy as the previous one. But at the same time it contained a hint. "VGNR" means that the cipher used is Vigenère cipher - ach letter in the message is replaced by a letter some fixed number of positions down the alphabet, with a different shift number for each letter based on a predetermined key. Using the key "seven", the message above is translated to:

one two two seven two zero one three || one one two five two zero one three

which gives us two dates: 12/27/2013 and 11/25/2013 (Monday and Friday). Not much for an update, but it becomes more interesting when you look at today's message:

VGNR [CAP] - ***? - LET- GRZ XJG XRS FWZZR GOS UIEG SII GZVZI || GRZ SAW XRS SAZZ XJG DZVB GRZ XUJIZ

Using "monday friday" as a key and then reading the resulting message backwards you get

The Quabbin Reservoir seven zero four two two nine nine

According to Wikipedia, Quabbin Reservoir is the largest inland body of water in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was built between 1930 and 1939. Another mention of the Commonwealth together with a hint to a new interesting location.

You can check all the deciphering using any codebreaker website that supports Vigenère cipher, e.g. MyGeocachingProfile.com. Heads up to Fallout sub-Reddit for original deciphering.

In addition, it appears a new page is present on the server. As of now, the page has been taken down, but it has been saved in Google cache. The text on the page said:

2510730 PLEASE STAND BY

Two other pages (23710-7667-1660 and 7042299), which has also been taken down but still available thanks to Google cache, said:

19.04 || 2247 LLUB

GBG #23710-7667-?

As always, we encourage you to be skeptical about all updates from The Survivor 2299 until we have an official confirmation from Bethesda.

Note: While it has been claimed that the site has been tied to AKQA, this is not true. The only tie was an e-mail address obtained from the historical DNS data that, when input into Google Images, returned a photo of a man that was apparently present on the Google+ page of an alleged AKQA employee with a completely different name than that in the e-mail address. As the e-mail address is dead and the Google+ pages were pulled down, this link cannot be verified or confirmed. Therefore, employ that salt, gentlemen.

The Survivor 2299 teases The Institute

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We are keeping an eye on new stuff on probably-Fallout 4-teaser website The Survivor 2299 and there are some interesting updates there.

First of all, a new page has been discovered - http://thesurvivor2299.com/V137/ which doesn't say anything so far, except for:

VT137-7042299-V119BST: PERMISSION DENIED BY OVERSEER.

As per Fallout Bible, Vault-Tec built only 122 vaults across the country as part of "Project Safehouse". Is Bethesda going to retcon this to include more Vaults? Or whoever stands behind this hoax just had not read Fallout Bible careful enough?

The second part is more intriguing. Survivor's main page now features a cipher:

ZL QRNE FVFGRE. V'Z URNQVAT GB GUR VAFGVGHGR. TBQ XABJF JUNG UNCCRARQ GB GUVF CYNPR ABJ. GUVF BYQ ONFGNEQ JVYY URYC HF. UR ZHFG URYC HF. --0321--

Thanks to a great cipher-solving website Wordplays.com we were able to crack the code. You can see the resulting message below:

MY DEAR SISTER. I'M HEADING TO THE INSTITUTE. GOD KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS PLACE NOW. THIS OLD BASTARD WILL HELP US. HE MUST HELP US. --0321--

The Institute has been rumored to be the main place in Fallout 4 for a long time. Some time ago Bethesda staff was rumored to be seen in Boston, near MIT. So the fact that this place is mentioned on the site doesn't automatically mean that The Survivor 2299 is legit. The Vault recommends you to be skeptical as long as there is no official confirmation from Bethesda.

The site was later removed the first part of the cipher and replaced it with another one. This message was encrypted using a cipher algorithm called Vigenere's cipher (hence why the message starts with VGNR), basically a more complex Caesar Cipher that uses a keyword to encrypt instead a number to indicate shifts.

VGNR [CAP] - ***? - LET- GRZ XJG XRS FWZZR GOS UIEG SII GZVZI

With the keyword being "seven", the message translates out below as:

ONE TWO TWO SEVEN TWO ZERO ONE THREE , ONE ONE TWO FIVE TWO ZERO ONE THREE

If these are to be taken as dates, the first line is 12/27/13 and the second is 11/25/13, with the latter being this Monday.

The Survivor Tumblr is Fake

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In case you were following the Tumblr, the latest post is a statement from the author that it's a hoax.

How does that bode for thesurvivor2299.com? We'll see.

More teases from Erik Todd Dellums

Erik Todd Dellums, the voice actor behind Three Dog, once again teases all Fallout fans on possible continuation of the series. Back in January he had already said:

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Now his tweets are more vague. He asks if we are "ready to fight the good fight" and posts songs from 50's and 60's by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday.

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This is by no means an official statement. Those January tweets turned into nothing and Erik had to disappoint his fans later. BTW, why would a DJ like Three Dog move from Washington DC to Boston, huh?

Bethesda registers Fallout 4 trademark

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The Internet exploded in speculation as it turned out that a few days ago, Bethesda filed for a Fallout 4 trademark with the Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market through their usual legal firm, DLA Piper.

You can find the filings here and here. Both are Nice classes 9, 16, 25, 41.

In human terms, this means Bethesda filed for trademarks for games, online information about games, printed media, and clothing. If you want the precise legal definition, look up the above links.

Now, does that mean anything? Maybe. Digging up the trademark filing for Fallout: New Vegas, it can be plainly seen that the European trademark was registered in October 2009, in Nice classes 9 and 41, about four months before the teaser trailer was released in February 2010. This might be a similar situation. Might just be the company protecting its IP.

Is it related to the thesurvivor2299.com website? That remains to be seen. Reddit users have traced the countdown code to a Polish web developer, Krzysztof Furtak. The code is available publicly under the GNU GPL license. Does this explain the presence of Polish variables in the code? Maybe. It doesn't explain, however, why the site was initially hosted on a Polish server or why a multimillion dollar gaming company would use a GPL code when they have enough web designers of their own. A strong dose of skepticism is recommended.

Stay tuned for more information.

The Survivor 2299

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We've been positively dry on news for quite a while now, so I figured I'd bring some attention to something possibly Fallout 4-related I've just learned about:

http://thesurvivor2299.com/

Spooky, huh? Apparently, this domain was just recently registered by the big Beth, confirmed by news sites Gameranx and 8th-Circuit. The current Morse code translates to CQ/CQ/CQ/DE/OZ/PSE/AS, which is the Morse code for Calling any station. Calling any station. Calling any station. This is OZ. Please stand by. OZ in the NATO phonetic code stands for Oscar Zulu. Interestingly, the file name for the Morse code starts with V137.

The facts:

  • The domain registrant is ZeniMax Media Inc. The same spelling of the registrant, data, and even contact information are used for the main Bethesda Softworks domain (bethsoft.com). GoDaddy domain data.
  • The Google conversion id (located in the JavaScript portion at the bottom of the page) is 963805860. The same Google conversion id is used by official Bethesda Softworks webpages (eg. The Elder Scrolls.
  • The cascading style sheet references the Monofonto font used in Fallout 3s interface.
  • A div at the bottom of the page is noted as pointing towards Bethesda Softworks' own YouTube profile.
  • A Tumblr account that's related to this page (it seems) has been uncovered on Reddit.
  • Additionally, an overlooked point is that the site has now experienced massive traffic and is still up. As Rob O'Neill (thanks again, man) points out, this indicates that whomever operates the site clearly has the funds to pay for the bandwidth and traffic.
  • Reddit users have traced the countdown code to a Polish web developer, Krzysztof Furtak. The code is available publicly under the GNU GPL license. Does this explain the presence of Polish variables in the code? Maybe. It doesn't explain, however, why the site was initially hosted on a Polish server or why a multimillion dollar gaming company would use a GPL code when they have enough web designers of their own. A strong dose of skepticism is recommended.
  • As per GameInformer: "We heard back from Bethesda regarding TheSurvivor2299.com. The publisher declined to comment on this rumor as per policy." (from veryblackraven)

Now removed content:

  • The European RTMP server is stated to point to a Polish IP (5.131.13.121). The American IP (199.107.64.171) is listed as owned by ZeniMax Media. The second (199.15.249.30) resolves to a Baltimore hosting company.
  • The site included references to assets, including posters:

<img src="http://prepareforthefuture.com/static/00_posters/04_poster_pinch.png">
<img src="http://prepareforthefuture.com/static/00_posters/04_poster_apo.png">
<img src="http://prepareforthefuture.com/static/00_posters/04_poster_battlesh_cov.png">
<img src="http://prepareforthefuture.com/static/00_posters/04_poster_river.png">
<img src="http://prepareforthefuture.com/static/00_posters/04_poster_bst01.png">
<img src="http://prepareforthefuture.com/static/00_posters/04_poster_bst02.png">
<img src="http://prepareforthefuture.com/static/00_posters/04_poster_bk_wads_atheneum.png">

  • 04_poster_bk_wads_atheneum.png seems to reference the Wadswoth Atheneum, an art museum in Hartford, Connecticut.
  • 04_poster_battlesh_cov.png appears to be a reference to Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.
  • Another file on the server (commented out currently), fall-river-6191da7f11n.mp3, referenced the city of Fall River south of Boston and east of Bridgeport.
  • Another file was present (commented out as well), hanscom-msg-52862c3e7a30e.mp3, referring (apparently) to Hanscom AFB, Massachussets.
  • The .mp3 file could be accessed at this address which incidentally references the Connecticut city of Bridgeport. The Morse code translated to '12-22-13', or maybe '11-22-13'.

It does seem similar to how Fallout 3 was teased, though remember the following things to consider before claiming it's the next coming of Fallout:

  • The countdown script is referred to as bscountdown.js. BS is a well known acronym for, well, bullshit.
  • Pinging the domain name used to resolve to the IP 5.131.13.121, which is a Polish server belonging to ViBiznes, a hosting company not used by ZeniMax or Bethesda. Currently it resolves to 199.15.249.30, which is a server belonging to a Baltimore hosting company, not on any IP belonging to the ZeniMax Media company.
    • However, pinging stream.thesurvivor2299.com resolves to 199.107.64.171, an IP owned by ZeniMax Media Inc.
  • The presence of Polish names for script variables inside the website code also indicates this may very well be a very convincing fake. Though highly unlikely, it might also mean that it was outsourced to a Polish company.
  • ZeniMax does not use GoDaddy for domain registration. They rely on the services of CSC Corporate Domains, Inc.
  • The site references assets from the defunct Prepare for the Future website, rather than a new domain. Furthermore, it is possible to submit fake registration details while applying for a domain, allowing one to mimic a corporation.
  • Another issue is that the supposed reveal uses the European date format, rather than American (i.e. days are in front of months, not the other way around).
  • There was a 'fallout.js' (JavaScript) as a file reference on the page, but it has been since removed.
  • Looking up the locations on the map, they seem to be centered south and south-west of Boston, which was repeatedly rumored (without any sort of official confirmation) to be the setting of the next Fallout game. However, it should be noted that the distance between Bridgeport and Fall River alone totals 137 miles. The real world distance between the Jefferson Memorial and the western edge of the map in Fallout 3 was about 40-50 miles.

From the Reddit thread on the topic:

  • The design of the site does not match any known ZeniMax sites, nor does the set up and infrastructure associated with it.

Get Your Piece of Gaming History

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Anthony Davis, a veteran of Obsidian Entertainment fame, is currently auctioning off his sizable collection of games. If you want a bit of gaming history (and burn a pile o' cash while you're at it), here are the goods:

J.E. Sawyer on Real World Knowledge and Game Design

J.E. Sawyer recently posted another video editorial, focusing on the importance of real world knowledge in developing games:

Here's a transcript of the video, lightly edited:

Somebody asked me if it is important to have a knowledge of the real world... stuff: topics, subjects, locations, characters, when you are writing or designing. It's a pretty important topic to me. I would say:

Yeah. It's pretty super-duper important, it is one of the most important things. There are a lot of different things as designers that you do. Some of it is system design, area design, narrative design, world building, all sorts of stuff, where knowledge of real world stuff can be extremely valuable.

It's really important to me. I wrote down a few topics specifically that I want to talk about. For example: locations.

In Fallout: New Vegas I went out to the Mojave desert and I cruised around, I camped, I went to Las Vegas itself, I rattled a lot, I read books on the history of the area, and the agriculture in the high desert, and the Utes and all the other tribes that lived there, and I think it helped a lot. Obviously we didn't create something that is a 1:1 scale representation of Las Vegas, because that's not really the point, but the idea is that if you're going to show an area you don't need to get it exactly right, but you should at least capture the spirit of it and to understand the spirit of a thing, you kind of have to know it thoroughly, know it in and out, be familiar with it on a number of levels, understand how it got the way it is, what it was before, how the way it is affects the people that live there and their economy and all that sort of stuff, so if you're going to go and try to portray an area, knowing about that area... Hopefully you can go to that place and spend some time in that place, but if you can't do that, at least research it and get a thorough knowledge of it, because it can help a lot.

Subjects, historical subjects, philosophy, any subject that you want to write about... The thing is, if you want to make something, if you're going to write something, if you're going to do a piece of art, if you're going to make a game about something, I say it's pretty questionable that you're going to contribute anything meaningful to it if you don't have a thorough understanding of it. Religion is a topic, I think, that often gets not a great treatment in video games. It was important for me for a long time to try and see religion portrayed (specifically, Christianity) in a realistic and interesting way in a setting. In Fallout I got a chance to do it with Honest Hearts. I'm not religious, I believe that there aren't any gods, but that doesn't really matter. The point is that the topic I thought was interesting, I thought it was worth exploring, and I had a fair amount of knowledge of Christianity from college, from studying it on my own, talking to people about it, debating the topic with people.

And then Mormonism. I learned a lot more about from studying its history and talking with Mormons to get a more in-depth understanding of it. Before I did Honest Hearts I went out into Zion and I read the Pearl of Great Price by Joseph Smith. It was all just to get a good understanding of it, just to present something that made some sense. I didn't get everything right and, you know, you can never get everything absolutely right (or it would be very hard to). The point is, you try to approach it seriously and take it seriously. And if you're going to break rules about something, you kind of have to know what these rules are before you can really break them in a way that's interesting or justifiable, otherwise you're just kind of making stuff up. Which, you know, you can make stuff up, but I think that if you try to deal with a real world subject, you should probably know something about it.

Things like mechanics or physics. Science, there's another thing that I think is really worth understanding and researching. Physics, in particular, is something that's easy to get a lot of things wrong, especially when you're dealing with stuff like space or planets or gravity or genetics. When I was in college, I went to school for music originally and got a degree in history. Didn't do a lot of science stuff, but I was friends with a lot of guys and in the fraternity I was in there were a lot of physics majors, a bunch of brilliant guys. I learned a lot of stuff from them. Nothing crazy in-depth, but those conversations helped me appreciate and understand a lot of stuff I really didn't have much exposure to. I think that helps. Just go online, read a book, talk to people, ask questions. Understanding that stuff when you try to create a setting, a space game, or a world where something crazy happens. You know, a disease breaks out: how does that disease work, how do diseases mutate over time, how do people become immune to them (or not become)...

Just, you know.

Read about.

Learn about it.

It's important to understand it because, again, if you're going to stretch things or play around with them, I think you need a solid basis of understanding before you start screwing around with it.

Languages and language itself, how languages develop, how dialects develop and change over time. If you're trying to get a period right, understanding different dialects and accents and families of languages, it's something that I find fascinating. Personally, I'm not fluent in anything but English, but I like studying languages, I like learning about languages, how they developed over time and I think that if your try to create a fictitious setting and characters that have a certain cant or dialect, I mean, a lot of people like the cant in the Planescape setting for the reason that it has all that flavor to it. A lot of that flavor can be found in the real world cants and dialects as well. I think there's a benefit to understanding those things, studying them, learning about them. Even if you don't use all that knowledge, it informs your understanding of how these things develop and it just helps make the setting more believable, I think.

Last thing is character interactions. This one's really important to me, I kind of feel like a lot of writers (in many cases a lot of fantasy writers and sci-fi writers), they write characters and they write interactions based on interactions in other fictitious works in that genre. Fair enough, you can do that, a lot of times I think these interactions come across as very unbelievable. I think when character interactions are unbelievable, the characters are hard to sympathize with.

Sometimes this is the goal, but often I don't think that's the goal, I think if you want to have characters that you believe in, that you can understand and empathize with, and feel something for, I think that understanding character motivations, what really drives people, understanding psychology. One of the reasons I love studying history is because people in history have done crazy, insane things that are fascinating and understanding that people actually did these things, that they actually believed these crazy things you wouldn't think they sincerely believed, like studying witchcraft (which is what I did in college). That's amazing and fascinating to understand, to go through the thought process, like read correspondence between people, how they talked to each other to understand how they thought about things, how they communicated their desires, their fears to each other. In games we try to create fantastic worlds, but at the heart of it I think that you want believable characters, that you want things to feel grounded.

I think a lot of it comes back to the idea of feeling grounded. When you break those rules, you need to break them from a position of confidence and strength or it comes off as weird. We did a lot of firearm stuff in New Vegas. I don't know much about guns, I knew a lot of pop culture stuff about guns before I started working on New Vegas. I read a lot about guns, I bought some guns, I went to the firing range, I took gun safety courses, I disassembled guns, I cleaned them, just to get an understanding of it. The guns in New Vegas are not accurate, they are kind of close, the ammo is kind of close, the goal was to get kind of close and feel in the ballpark. I think that, as designers, the more we know, the more effective we can be in representing and modifying these things for people and for different audiences. We can't know everything, but I feel like you have got to keep trying to learn all the time, about all sorts of things.

We can't know everything, but we've got to try to know a little bit about everything. All it can do is help us gain a broader understanding of how our world works, so that we may make a new world or a new version of our world for other people, that it's more believable and ultimately more effective at compelling people.

Also.

Sesame's here.

I think it's really important. There's an old maxim in writing that you should write what you know. I think it also applies to design, it applies to a lot of creative endeavors. There are a lot of things that I don't know, subjects that interest me, subjects that I wish I knew more about, so that I could design or write about them, but I don't feel I'm ready yet. It's going to take concerted effort from me to feel confident with that stuff and I would encourage anyone, if you have a feeling like you are interested in a topic, a place, a time period, a language, or a phenomenon, just learn more about it, read about it, talk to people about it, take classes on it, do whatever you can to expand your knowledge, because the more you know, the more you get out of it, the more you can put into the work that you create.

Thanks, J.E.!

Erik Todd Dellums Clarifies: No Three Dog for Now

ErikHeadshotLg.jpg

You may have read about the mysterious tweets supposedly teasing Fallout 4. Well, Erik Dellums just clarified that this new project has nothing to do with Bethesda:

New game is not with my friends at Bethesda. Fingers still crossed on working with them again. Thanks for the good wishes!

— Erik Todd Dellums (@ETDellums) July 17, 2013
Source: Twitter
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