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.
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.
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.
2510730 PLEASE STAND BY”
19.04 || 2247 LLUB”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
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 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 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 (126.96.36.199). The American IP (188.8.131.52) is listed as owned by ZeniMax Media. The second (184.108.40.206) resolves to a Baltimore hosting company.
- The site included references to assets, including posters:
- 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'.
- 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 220.127.116.11, which is a Polish server belonging to ViBiznes, a hosting company not used by ZeniMax or Bethesda. Currently it resolves to 18.104.22.168, 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 22.214.171.124, 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).
- 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.
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:
- Shrinkwrapped Baldur's Gate 2 Collector's Edition ($249.00)
- Shrinkwrapped Icewind Dale 2 Collector's Edition ($249.00)
- Shrinkwrapped European version of Fallout, once given to Davis by Chris Avellone ($229.00)
- Fallout: New Vegas, autographed by almost the entire team including Josh Sawyer, Chris Avellone, and Brian Menze ($449.00)
- Fallout New Vegas Official Strategy Guide, hardcover, autographed by almost the entire team including Josh Sawyer, Chris Avellone, and Brian Menze ($189.00)
- Fallout 2 original Vault-Boy art, plus the ultra rare promotional Gecko in a can and Vault 13 flask ($1 499.00)
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.
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.
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.”
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
Chris Avellone recently held a lecture at Rezzed 2013, covering game design. Although the presentation focuses on Project Eternity, using a Wasteland 2 design document as an example (transcripts are here), Fallout: New Vegas is also mentioned. Avellone includes an interesting development image of the Fallout: New Vegas map, likely from the pre-production stage:
Apart from well known names, like Novac, Nipton, or New Vegas, you can also notice previously unknown names like Corn Creek Dunes, Valley of Fire, or the Las Vegas Dunes. Interestinly, Malpais Legionary's camp appears.
A number of days ago, a blog post surfaced on an obscure website, Bubblenews.com, claiming to have information on a Fallout 4 leak. Allegedly, a 37 second teaser trailer for Fallout 4 was screened behind closed doors during a lecture by Hines. A number of websites picked up on the rumour, connecting it to an interview the Official Xbox Magazine conducted with Pete Hines of Bethesda Game Studios.
The claims made by the author cannot be verified. Do consider the fact that this article was posted on a website that generates revenue for authors basing on the number of page views, comments, likes, shares, and other reactions their articles get. As such, while there is the chance that there's some truth to the article, it is just as likely, if not more, that it is simply a fake leak meant to generate money for the author.
For reference, the claims made by the author have been posted below:
> Fallout 4 has been in development since January 2011 by a small team, as the majority were working on Skyrim.
> As of February 2013, the team working on Fallout 4 is the size of the team which was working on Skyrim. This is due to Skyrim development ending.
> As it stands now, Fallout 4 will release on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. However, this is still subject to change.
> The actual announcement for Fallout 4 will come BEFORE E3 2014, but will NOT launch in 2014.
> The expected launch is in October 2015.
> The game is (as of June 2013) 55% complete, consequently, voice actors will be hired towards the end of 2014.
> There is no planned multi-player, but there is a possibility of Co-Op locally.
> The game will take place in Somerville, Cambridge, Arlington (and surrounding areas). The main setting is in a Post-Apocalyptic Boston. However, this area will not be immediately accessible.
> The story is not clear, however, Vaults exist.
> The 37 second trailor starts starts with a half-broken phone sparking. The scene pulls out slowly with the stereotypical music you would hear. Slowly you work out the scene is pulling out of a belltower. As it pulls further out, you see a destroyed town around. This is Boston. Suddenly, you hear the bell chime loudly, and the screen changes black instantly. The words of Ron Pearlman are heard "War... War never changes...". The logo for Fallout 4 appears with the 5 platforms above listed.
Our friends from No Mutants Allowed have posted a very interesting piece of information about Fallout: New Vegas cut content. The information comes from an unnamed source with a reliable track record. Here are some examples:
The Black Mountain location was meant to play a larger role in the NCR/Legion conflict at one point, with factions interested in controlling it due to its satellite system (the NCR to expand their broadcast range and the Legion to use as a jamming system). Digging through the files of the game one can still find some references to a quest that involved blowing up the satellite dishes that was tied to that older design of the area.
The Securitron Marilyn, a flirtier counterpart to Jane at the service of Mr. House, was cut due to unconditionalized/missing dialogue that couldn't be re-recorded at that point in development. Some NPCs had similar problems which is why you see so many "..." goodbye lines in the final title.
At one point during development you'd be able to actually work with the Fiends, which explains the cut dialogue for the Three-Card Bounty quest. You could allow the Fiends to break into Camp McCarran (referenced in some of the ending slides) and you'd be able to witness the consequences of that action in post-Hoover Dam gameplay.
In the original design Freeside was meant to lose power between 11pm till dawn or so, making the choice to route power to the location more relevant, as it'd mean that the Followers would be able to continue operating during the night too.
You can read even more interesting stuff in full article. Great job, WorstUsernameEver.
On Thursday, May 2, The Vault will be migrated to Curse's new Gamepedia platform.
On Thursday, May 2, The Vault will be migrated to Curse's new Gamepedia platform.
You may have noted that Joel Burgess (lead level designer) and Nathan Purkeypile (world artist) have held a presentation at this year's Game Developer Conference, entitled Skyrim's Modular Level Design. Recently, Joel Burgess has posted a complete transcript of the presentation together with the slides he used throughout. Although focused mostly on Skyrim, it provides insight into Bethesda Game Studios' level design philosophy, including how Fallout 3 changed the way the studio approaches it.
To minimize needless repetition, we abolished the use of warehouse cells as they existed in Oblivion. Beginning with Fallout 3, we staffed up a group of level designers and got tool support to make sure we were able to build spaces more quickly, and with the most granular art available, reducing the amount of repetition as much as we possibly could.
You can also fight art fatigue at a more fundamental level. It’s common at the start of a project to strongly associate a particular setting with specific types of inhabitants or gameplay. You may want to only see soldiers in military bases, and zombies in crypts, for example. Resist this. Think of your kits as the architectural identity of the space, and allow other elements to establish the specific identity of any given space in which it’s used. The more you’re able to divorce these things, the more you’ll be able to mix elements up and keep the settings fresh.”
Source: Joel Burgess' Blog
Following recent rumors regarding Fallout 4 production Craig Pearson from PC Gamer has written some thoughts on how Bethesda Softworks could improve the atmosphere of the next installment of Fallout series.
“Make it about survival.
In Bethesda’s hands, the Wasteland is fun. By the middle of a run through you’re clobbering Deathclaws with concrete capped rebars and sipping irradiated water without a care in the world. Possibly with a pinkie out. The point being is that the notion of survival becomes obsolete in a world dripped in caps to find, traders to sell to, and junk to collect. New Vegas has hardcore mode, forcing you to think about food, water, and rest, as well as altering the way meds and stimpaks work, but it’s still a world that can easily and comfortably be lived in. It needn’t be the main difficulty level, but the option to make the world a harsh place to live, to make the players think about every move, not just their weapon and perk choices, would give the ashy flavour of survival.
Bethesda’s Design, Obsidian’s Characters.
There I was, wandering beneath a line-up of broken satellite dishes, looking for things to do when I spied a door. What could be behind it? A gang of gangers? A terrified NPC? A few steps towards it, a glance around to make sure there was nothing sneaking up. I popped the door. Behind it was a wall with “Fuck You” written on it. Bethesda’s worlds tend to be packed with detail, big and small. They’re places to live in and enjoy, and just brilliant places to explore. Their characters, however, are a lot less engaging. Obsidian’s take on New Vegas was packed with morally dubious Wastelanders with dark stories. Acquiring Boone as a follower, for example, meant leading a person out into a field for the deranged sniper to shoot. That’s dark enough, but as a player you could happily lead an innocent into Boone’s sights. Somewhere in the middle of Fallout 3 and New Vegas is the sweet spot they should be aiming for: dark, compelling characters in a curated world.
A use for everything.
Speaking of that, Fallout New Vegas allowed you to mod your guns a little, augmenting them with scopes and such. That’s a good start. This is a world where invention is a necessary part of survival, and where scavenging should be part of a crafting system that allows you build everything and anything, and to mod things on top of that. I’d even lobby for individual components to be brought in from the Steam Workshop. Oh yeah...
Use The Steam Workshop.
This is kind of a lock: the Skyrim Workshop is the third busiest of the modder’s distribution platforms. But what I would urge is for Bethesda to make the tools available on launch day. It will help with content, and if none of the above in the list makes it, it’ll give the modders a jump on fiddling with and fixing everything on the list above.
Aggrogamer: After Interplay was acquired by Titus, Fargo leaving and Black Isle was shuttered due to financial troubles, what inspired you and your team to start a new studio rather than joining an existing already successful studio like BioWare? Also how did your team respond to this, did it take some convincing? Did any disagree and go to competitors?
Chris Avellone: "Independence" is the best answer. We were still local, we knew the kinds of games we wanted to do, and we wanted a chance to prove it. I doubt we all could have gotten jobs at BioWare (if any of us could've), and we'd always imagined Black Isle as a separate entity in any event — Feargus worked very hard to shield us from all the troubles taking place there in the last few years with Titus, although he was powerless to prevent what happened with Baldur's Gate 3 and he departed several months before Van Buren (Fallout 3) got canceled as well.
We didn't ask anyone to join us, they simply volunteered — and a lot of them volunteered. Speaking for myself, the moment Feargus walked into my office and said he had resigned, my response was "when do I quit?" That was true for a lot of people — Feargus, much like Fargo, had earned a lot of respect over the years, and the current company climate wasn't such that people were willing to remain without being able to work for those same bosses.
I loved working at Black Isle, I loved the Infinity Engine games (even with the increasing pressure to do them faster and faster), and I had put a lot of years into crafting an experience for Fallout 3. Still, after what happened with Baldur's Gate 3, it no longer seemed reasonable to expect that that project would be allowed to be carried to completion, and sure enough, it wasn't.
AG: As far as Fallout 3 (Van Buren) goes is there any chance the files will ever see the light of day like KOTOR2 or HL2 on Dreamcast; or even a legit release from Bethesda down the line someday?
CA: I don't believe those files will ever see the light of day, but I don't know. And it's not up to me anyway. Fallout belongs to Bethesda, I doubt they'd dig through those archives or if they even have all the files in order to share them with the public, and I doubt they'd even want to (I don't see what benefit it would be for them). I do know that a lot of Van Buren docs have ended up on the internet and from what I've seen; they're accurate from what I remember.
I do not believe that we'd ever see the Van Buren game made, which is fine. After all, a lot of the Van Buren stuff ended up mutating and finding a home in New Vegas in any event, so it did gain new life, even if it wasn't exactly the same as it was portrayed in Van Buren (things that showed up include: Hoover Dam, the brain-damaged Nightkin, which originated in one of our pen and paper campaigns at Interplay, Caesar's Legion, the Big Empty in Old World Blues). Also, there's nothing to say that some of the concepts (rival party, Prisoner's Dilemma) couldn't end up in some other game down the line. KOTOR 2 was different because the legacy info was still in the actual game and could be unearthed (we didn't strip those out, and while it wasn't the feeling of everyone at the studio, I'm glad we didn't strip them out).
AG: You and your team got to revisit Fallout again with New Vegas and it's add-ons, was this a something you and your team had to think about or was it just an instant yes?
Would you guys do another Fallout and do you think BethSoft would ever do an alternating dev cycle a-la Activision with Treyarch and IW doing CoD?
CA: Aside from getting the contract squared away, I believe everyone on at the studio was a "yes" on this. Fallout's one of the best RPG franchises to work on, and it was one we didn't think we'd get a chance to return to, and then… New Vegas came along.
We'd love to work on another Fallout, although that would depend on Bethesda. We certainly enjoyed working with them on New Vegas and we still have a lot of cool ideas and adventures we'd love to do for the Fallout universe.”