Who are you?
I think I'm a human, though my wife says I'm a mutant (especially after late night scripting sessions). My superpowers include typing moderately fast on the keyboard and opening automatic doors in shopping malls if I'm close enough. My name is Paweł Kroenke. I'm 27. I come from Warsaw, Poland. I am the author of Ardent's Mod and a scripter/designer/occasional writer in Mutants Rising.
What do you do outside of modding?
Professionally, I'm a translator/interpreter. In my free time, I play drums in two bands. I can also play the guitar, the banjo, the mandolin and some bass. I listen to a lot of music. I also like to play computer games, cook, read books, watch movies, sail and travel, but I don't have time to do that as often as I would like to. I used to play a lot of PnP RPGs, but I can't seem to get my geeky buddies together anymore.
How did you get into Fallout modding?
That's a very uninspiring story actually. I was making a Star Wars themed economic/strategy game with a friend. However, we've gone too far in our grandiose design ideas and the game failed in late alpha. I wanted to make an RPG, but I knew better than to try to write my own game (I don't have any programming skills in C++ or C#, or any other language that is not Fallout's scripting actually). Since I have always been a big fan of Fallout, I decided to make my old dreams come true and create a Total Conversion mod for this game. I re-downloaded the Mapper, went to NMA/The Vault, read all possible tutorials, dug out my old modding notes from around the time when the Mapper was first published and started writing small scripts to see if I was able to do that. Turned out I was.
What work are you most proud of?
If you mean modding work, that'd be quite obviously my mod. All the praise I got for the first demo makes me very proud of it. As for specific parts/moments of the mod, I was very satisfied with the Factory: with the triple questline, with all the little details and choices that are there, with how much you have to watch out for what you're doing, etc. Long story short, it came out exactly like I wanted it to. I hope I can maintain this quality for the remaining locations. I am also happy with my food system and other player-related systems that will appear in either Ardent's Mod or Mutants Rising (or both).
Secondly, I am rather satisfied with some of my work for MR, both design-wise and script-wise. I won't give more details before the game is out (it will be, really), sorry. However, to cheer you guys up a bit, I stole Lexx's idea to include some screenshots in the interview, so have a look at some stuff that was made after I released the demo for Ardent's mod. I have to warn you though, everything you'll see here is still work in progress. There are imperfections and things may still change for the final release. The screens also contain some spoilers (nothing too bad, but still, you've been warned):
Creating your character. Note that the Speech skill has been divided into Persuasion and Deception, Van Buren style, the latter replacing the more or less obsolete Gambling skill. The mod is also fully compatible with the Hero Appearance mod.
The town of Duston has been completely rebuilt. The map is now prettier, more logical and better in several other respects compared to the original. The quests and dialogues also got a tune-up.
This is the entrance to Crater City, an underground town built around a Vault. In the message window, you can see an example of the food system at work. After each travel, the game tests your Outdoorsman skill to see if you were able to find any food during your travel. Even the most successful test does not enable you not to carry any supplies. The game is much more challenging with the food system.
The new world map for Ardent's Mod, made thanks to Ghouly89 and his dad. I decided to give the world map travel experience a little more love. You will now have to plan your routes more carefully - travelling in the mountains is very long and exhausting, but you can travel faster if you stick to the coast or to highways (they are marked on the actual map). However, you are more likely to be ambushed by raiders when you stick to the beaten path. The red lines mark areas of high background radiation, where the risk of being exposed is very high. I also expanded the idea of quests being solved or advanced by travelling the world map.
Ardent's mod was really good. It has had a couple of hundreds downloads so far which is a great achievement, but when you see triple-X or generic gun mods for FO3 getting so much kudos and many thousands of downloads, do you feel marginalized? or that you are performing a niche activity?
Thanks. I must admit, I don't follow the F3/NV modding scene at all, so I didn't even know XXX mods were getting a lot of praise. Now I'm pissed! No, I'm not. When I started modding Fallout 2, I realised it was a niche activity. I'm not in this for money, fame or hookers (is anyone really?) and the F3 fanbase was never my target audience, so I can't really see a problem here. In fact, I was quite surprised when my demo got so much attention and praise, it was extremely pleasing to see that the people whom I wanted to interest with my work were interested. Besides, this interview and a preview of my mod on Fallout Generation site are the contrary of what I would call marginalising.
Shortly after you released Ardent's mod, you joined MR. Has it been a bit of a culture shock having to rely on the notoriously unreliable modders of the interweb?
Working in a team has been a very different experience, to answer diplomatically. Indeed, it is sometimes frustrating when you have to wait for others to finish their work (you often do). On the other hand, the progress of your team mates motivates you to try harder. And the social aspect of making a game together is unbeatable.
How do you generate immersion in a mod?
I don't. How do you expect me to generate immersion in a game with 4-pixel chairs? Seriously though, I'm afraid I won't be very original here. Immersion or in other words - awesomeness (I think they're the same in Fallout) - is generated by telling stories that keep the ambiance of the Fallout universe. Stories about survival, about retaining your humanity in a savage world, stories of exploring the vestiges of the past, trying to understand the madness that destroyed the world and finding an answer to the question: have we learned anything at all? And all that jazz. Setting-wise, Fallout 1 is obviously the ultimate model. However, quest design is as important as the story told. Varied and challenging missions with multiple solutions, that take into account your stats and previous actions/karma, and with overarching consequences play a very important role in bringing you an entertaining experience. Fallout 2 had much better quests than Fallout 1 and the impact of your actions was bigger. I think Van Buren would have been a combination of the two. New Vegas has a great reputation system and a very cool feature that your performance in individual quests influences the end game (this concept was actually developed already in Van Buren, wasn't it?).
Where do you find inspiration for this?
Well, principally and unsurprisingly, Fallout games. Reading books and watching movies helps too. They don't have to be post-apo movies/books, themes of human relations, survival etc. can be found in other genres as well. A great source for interesting twists and building believable characters is history. Reading up on the cold war, on world politics and the atom era and even on medieval or tribal wars helps a lot. Finally, visiting a desolate place or a ruined industrial installation helps you feel what Fallout characters could feel.
Who is your most influential modder?
First of all, Timeslip - Sfall enabled me to do things that wouldn't have been possible with standard scripting and some of the features have been introduced on my request specifically! Many thanks, Timeslip!
Second of all, Brother_Soifran - He helped me greatly during the development of my mod, he had plenty of interesting ideas and made me some awesome artwork, some of which is yet to be revealed.
Last, but not least, the Mutants Rising team has had a big influence on me too. First, when I wasn't in the team yet, I browsed their website and dreamt I could produce something at least as good. Chris Parks was my modding god (now he's my boss too ). Then, when I joined the team, its members' ideas and approaches certainly shaped me as a modder. Special mention goes to two of them:
1) Jinx - This guy's dialogues made me realise my mod is seriously lacking some really good writing. Jinx also has the perfect Fallout groove that inspires me immensely.
2) .Pixote. - First of all, for his approach to Fallout artwork. I understood that Fallout art had a certain style and that awe-inspiring 3D modelling was not enough to produce cool, Fallouty art. He is also the one who made me see that detailed, well-designed and perfectly executed maps are crucial in a high-quality, modern Fallout experience (I still don't have enough mapping skills to pull it off though).
Any advice for newcomers to the modding scene?
Three pieces of advice actually. I got them all from other people:
1) Jesterka/Lexx: Less talk, more work.
2) Jesse Heinig: Detailed design is key. Start small and expand.
3) Continuum: Bugs can be patched. Shitty design stays forever.
Where do Fallout 1,2,3,NV rank in your all-time favorite titles?
1. Fallout / Fallout 2 (equal)
2. Grim Fandango
3. The Dig
4. TIE Fighter / X-Wing Alliance (equal)
5. Starcraft + Brood War
6. Grand Theft Auto
7. The Incredible Machine
8. Need for Speed
9. Baldur's Gate
10. Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight (for the atmosphere and civilians) / Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (for lightsaber fights)
11. Fallout: New Vegas
12. Call of Duty: Black Ops
13. Starcraft II
14. Star Wars Rebellion (aka Supremacy in the UK)
15. Settlers II
25. Pipe Mania
297. Fallout 3
Who is your favorite Fallout character and why?
Tough question. I could list many for various reasons and in no specific order: The Master, because I almost peed my pants when I first saw him. Myron, because of the superb dialogue. Loxley, because of the accent. Bishop, because of his being a plotting bastard. Cass (F:NV), because she retains Cassidy's badassness but is prettier than him. I also like her because she drinks a lot (like me). Aradesh, because he set the Fallout ambiance for me, on my first playthrough. Gizmo, for being a petty gangster who didn't actually do anything so so bad, but nevertheless takes the fall for the sake of stereotypes (I wish they had preserved the original F1 ending for Junktown).
My favourite character that I've written for my mod is Locke, because he swears a lot but is kind at heart. My favourite character from MR that I've written is a ghoul from Dayglow, because he is coherent and original throughout his 157 nodes of dialogue. He also has an awesome talking head and a great voice.
What do you think about FNV?
I hate Obsidian for coming up with the same/very similar ideas I've invented for my mod when nobody even knew New Vegas would be made. But they got to publish them first and now it makes me a copy cat. Seriously though, I wish they had more time to polish it. Some dialogue and quests are rather sparse/simplistic (I'm looking at you, Ceasar's Legion!). I also found it funny that virtually every NPC is willing to tell you the story of their life and to explain everything to you. Apart from that, I really enjoyed the game. 7.5/10.
What's your take on modern RPGs?
Can't say much, I didn't play any. I tried playing The Witcher, but horrendous voice work (when I saw a demo of an English version I thought English voice over was better than the Polish original!) and poor writing (at least in the first part of the game) put me off it, not to mention scandalous loading times and generally clunky interface (or was it just my old computer?). I got a copy of Witcher II for my name day and have played a little bit. It starts out nice, but I have a lot to discover yet. Another game that I'm itching to try out is Mass Effect. But so far, I've been too busy with Mutants Rising and I don't want anything to detract me from finishing off scripting on that monster.
What would you prioritise if you survived a nuclear war? (water, procreation, Saviour of knowledge or finding shelter)
Creating a bad-ass paramilitary organisation with Power Armor and Plasma guns Procreation sounds like fun too.
WillOoi: Could you tell us how you got started with NMA (arguably the online home of the most dedicated Fallout fans on the planet) and how you became and administrator there?
Tagaziel: My NMA life began in December 2003, when I registered an account and made a single post. I registered as a gymnasium pupil, after finding NMA on the Internet during one of the computer science (just computer in practice) classes. It was just one of many Fallout communities I participated in then, the other being Shamo and the late Vault13.net, but eventually only NMA stuck.
I returned to NMA in 2005, when I became an active forumgoer and, by pure chance, a newsposter for the polish section of the website. This was due to my status as a newsposter on the polish Vault Dweller’s Homepage website; after it merged with NMA, I got the honour of becoming a part of NMA staff.
Gradually, as the years passed, I was promoted to a moderator in the news comments section (experience in moderating that section comes in handy when moderating comments in the Vault’s newsposts, I can tell you that) and, as Fallout 3 news surfaced, I was promoted to a super moderator (allowing me to enforce rules across the forums). In time, I was offered the position of administrator. A big asset was my relatively young age when compared to most NMA old timers and staffers, I had more time to devote to policing the forum and was interested in a position that includes responsibility.
It’s a very interesting adventure so far. And no, I’m not saying that just because I devoted nearly eight years of my life to NMA
WO: How did you get into Fallout in the very beginning, and what was that experience like for you?
TAG: It all started in 1996, with the Fallout demo, published on Gambler’s cover CD (a now defunct Polish games magazine). Back then my english skills were still fairly rudimentary, but I understood it well enough to finish it on Baka’s side, after stealing her minigun. The memories are cloudy, but I remember the impression it made on me, the stunning graphics (the aesthetics, not the overrated realism), the gameplay, the entire mix. It was like a sledgehammer. I started reading all about Fallout, to the point of spoiling it for myself, reading everything I could find, replaying the demo over and over again. I recall I managed to procure a full copy of Fallout 1 two or three years later, from a relative. I installed it and… It delivered. Fallout was an experience unlike any other and to this day only a few other games managed to come close to repeating it. I was hooked.
Not only did the last New Vegas patch fix bugs and improve performance, but it apparently also updated the credits of the game with the full cast of all the DLCs, the upcoming Old World Blues and Lonesome Road included. So without further ado here is the - previously unreleased - cast for Honest Hearts, Old World Blues and Lonesome Road:
Joshua Graham - Keith Szarabajka
Daniel - Rick Pasqualone
Jed Masterson - Dave Fennoy
Walking Cloud - Misi Lecube
Salt-Upon-Wounds - Adam G
Follows-Chalk - Christian Lanz
Sorrows male - Alejandro Furth
Sorrows female - Eliza Schneider
Dead Horse male - Eduardo Idunate
Dead Horse female - Elisa Gabrieli
White Legs male - Marcelo Tubert
White Legs female - Michelle Bonilla
Old World Blues:
Dr. Mobius - Cam Clarke
Dr. Klein / Main Computer / Prototype Auto-Doc - Jim Ward
Dr. Borous / Book Chute - Beau Weaver
Dr. Dala - Jocelyn Blue
Dr. O - James Urbaniak
Player's Brain / X8 Robobrain / Muggy - Sunil Malhotra
Christine Royce / Stealth Suit / Light Switch - Veronica Belmont
Toaster - Jace Hall
Jukebox - Rashawn Underdue
Ulysses - Roger Cross
Ulysses - Roger Cross
Dr. Whitely / The Dad / Narrator - Jesse Burch
Dr. Howard / The Kid / Trooper Gleason - Cindy Robinson
There's a new post on Bethesda's blog which, aside from showcasing the screenshots we've already posted about earlier, also contains the new upcoming patch changelog. Massive optimization, idiot-proof autosave before the ending sequence and a host of other fixes are promised for the patch which is said to be coming out "between now and Thursday" on all platforms:
• New feature: system save is automatically created prior to endgame sequence. After credits, user is prompted to load save game. This will allow single save players to play DLC without creating a new game.
• Fixed issue where Minigun audio could get stuck/keep playing indefinitely when fired out of VATS.
• Script fix to restore destroyed ED-E. This should address issues players have with attempting to use certain companions (e.g. Rex) or when the player needs to clear his or her companions before entering an area (e.g. Zion / Honest Hearts).
• New “Companion Dismissal Terminals” added to Gun Runners and Lucky 38. These will allow players with lost companions from earlier patches to force-fire if they are experiencing problems attempting to get into DLC or areas that prevent companions from entering.
• Arms no longer lifted above head when sneaking with certain weapons.
• Fixed sound cutting out after extended playthroughs.
• Massive world optimizations in major areas for better stability/performance with multiple DLCs installed.
• Players can now have six or more DLCs installed without encountering an infinite “loading DLC” message on startup.
• Navmesh fixes/NPCs no longer getting stuck.
• Scripts added to keep certain NPCs who were marked as dead from respawning.
• Extensive world optimizations for Hoover Dam.
• Fixed lockup with Ranger Grant’s forcegreet at HD/NCR path.
• Fixed NPC AI packages so they don’t get stuck at HD.
• Fixed bug where upgraded ED-E could be killed in non-hardcore mode.
• Post-assassination Kimball now gets removed prior to Hoover Dam battle.
• Fixed navmesh around Camp Searchlight to improve performance over long soaks.
• Searchlight Troopers don’t bump into each other as often.
• Fixed navmesh on HD Observation Deck.
• New teleport locations for Legion path through Hoover Dam. Improves performance.
• Radio stations will work properly now if DLC is uninstalled.
• Fixed instances where it was possible to fast travel during Hoover Dam battle.
• Fixed case where recruited Remnants were hostile to player during HD battle on Independent and House paths. They will still turn hostile if you shoot them too much though.
• Two vending machines in Hoover Dam were facing the wrong way.
• Made it so Big Sal/Nero no longer accepts yield if the other is already dead.
• Removed Brotherhood objectives when ED-E is given to the Followers.
• Fixed rare instance where Cachino turned hostile on the player if player attacks Big Sal/Nero prior to Cachino entering the room.
• Fixed crashes in Ultra-Luxe.
• Fixed Alpha Squad snipers getting stuck when told to support player.
• Fix for Lily’s weapon being displayed oddly on her back..
• Improvements to navmesh and pathing in Great Khan Longhouse. Fixes crashes.
• Plasma Spaz now gives 20% AP reduction (was 10%).
• Fixed crash after hearing certain ED-E dialog triggers.
• Fixed instance where Boone would constantly holster his rifle in combat if player had lost rep with the NCR.
• Veronica no longer waits for player to speak to her before leaving after Hidden Valley is destroyed.
• Extensive optimizations in McCarran.
• Optimized NPC packages at Camp Golf to improve performance. Misfits now stay in a normal radius.
• Arcade now properly rants against Caesar (once).
• Motor-Runner Helmet now properly 0 weight. Also removed after quest completes.
• NCR Heavy Troopers will now attack player if you attack Hsu.
• Vulpes (and Alerio) now properly forcegreet if you somehow fast travel before their initial forcegreet fires.
• Killing hostages while helping Khans no longer fails quest.
• Gilbert/Ackerman now properly stay dead if murdered.
• Mr. New Vegas will only mention failed NCR attack on Powder Gangers if Troopers are dead and Eddie is alive.
• Fixed case where player could break quest with Orris if they fast traveled after he shoots thugs, but before forcegreet.
• Generic Powder Gangers now set as Aggressive (previously Very Aggressive).
• Fixed rare case of black screen during dialog at REPCONN facility.
• Fixed phantom quest marker remaining on Major Knight after he’s killed.
• Fix for incorrect dialog if player meets Bryce Anders after killing Motor Runner.
• Player can no longer isolate the BoS virus by hitting “isolate virus” three times on a single console.
• Fixed crash related to Arcade leaving the Remnants bunker.
• Fixed Nightkin encounter at Tumbleweed Ranch to occur after user reloads a save.
• Arcade will no longer attempt to initiate his quest during Hoover Dam.
• Hoover Dam Boomer Bombing Run now works properly after save/reload.
• Cass now only barks once per gameday and not every two gamehours.
• Fixed XP exploits with MantisForeleg.
• Massive optimizations in Westside, North Vegas and The Thorn. Improves AI pathing and performance with high uptimes.
• Optimizations in Vault 19.
• Fixed issue where Oliver Swanick would respawn after three days if killed.
• Pathing improvements to The Strip and North Sewers.
• Moved teleport doors on The Strip so NPCs don’t collide with players or other actors that stand in front of doors.
• Ethel, Walter, and the Station Merchant no longer wander or patrol to avoid collisions with other NPCs.
• Separated NPCs in the North Sewers.
• Fixed issue where window in Vault 19 let player see through the world.
• Greasers from Crandon’s quest now become disabled when the player leaves the area.
• Fixed a Legion melee NPC near Nelson that was under the terrain.
• Modified Legion and NCR hit-squad NPCs to use new level lists. They now have a smoother leveling curve that takes into account new level caps. Legion and NCR hit squad spawning was also revised to make their appearance more consistent and less memory-intensive.
• Fixed issue where Omerta thugs wouldn’t leave Freeside if you killed Joana and Carlitos.
• Cazador Poison Effect sound no longer plays globally if someone, somewhere gets stung. Only plays if the player is hit.
• Player can no longer repair the Grenade Launcher with the minigun.
• Fix for companions going into unconscious/conscious cycle over and over again when stung with Cazador poison. In normal mode (or against companions), Cazador poison now lasts 8 seconds, doing 18 points of damage per second. It is, in fact, even deadlier than the normal version, but lasts 1/4 as long. In hardcore mode or against the player, poison remains 30 seconds/5 damage per second.
• Casino slot scripts altered so their max bets do not produce game economy-ruining levels of cap overflow
• Hit the Deck and Stonewall now properly work with player’s weapon condition. Hit the Deck is now +25 DT vs. Explosives instead of +50% vs. Explosives.
• Adjusted Deathclaw fatigue to make them less exploitable with certain attacks. Inconsistent health values for Deathclaws were also corrected (in favor of stronger Deathclaws).
• Cazadores are now properly flagged as fliers, so they won’t set off mines.
• Increased radii for plasma and pulse grenades.
• Fixed bug where rescued Powder Gangers would return to the legion camp.
• Added Followers of the Apocalypse supplies to three areas of Hoover Dam if you gain their support and fight on independent or NCR paths. This also enables the FoA + NCR “good” ending through Julie Farkas.
• Optimizations for Westside.
• Fixed issues with Recharger Pistol animation.
• Fixed issue where Aba Daba Honeymoon wouldn’t update if the player was running O My Papa simultaneously.
• Typo: “Night Stalker Blood” changed to “Nightstalker Blood”
• Yes-Man now checks both Loyal and Pearl’s status before the player can tell him the Boomer leaders are dead.
• Removed “Intelligence” flag from Int<=2 check at REPCONN HQ, as engine doesn’t support checks that low.
• Fixed scripting on Lonesome Drifter barter check so player doesn’t get next objective with Tommy Torini if they fail.
• Legion Assassins moveto script no longer occurs every frame (frees up memory).
• Added recipe so player can now break down 12.7mm ammo.
• Four Eyes now works with ball cap with glasses.
• There is now always an option to give ED-E to Lorenzo, even if player has said no the first time.
• Mister Sandman no longer works on The Forecaster (XP exploit).
• Ultra-Luxe doors no longer disable player controls if player is an enemy of the White Gloves.
• Fix scripting conflict between “Cold, Cold Heart” and Mojave Ghost with Vulpes/Benny.
• Fixed issue where player could become control locked in Gommorah if they had installed Yes-Man.
• Player can now re-hire Arcade if ED-E is in the party.
• Ultra-Luxe now properly pays out in Legion and NCR money.
• Veronica’s companion perks (as in the ones Veronica gets, not the player) now properly assigned.
• Waiting companions will no longer get teleported by the Vault 22 elevator.
• Changed objectives for How Little We Know to better reflect branching paths.
• “Return to Yes-Man” objective no longer reopens if player tells him to go to Lucky 38 in Wild Card: Change in Management.
• Player can no longer pickpocket Button Man to break the scene where he shoots Cachino.
• Player can no longer ask Cachino about plans if Bosses are already dead.
• Fix for ED-E combat dialog.
• Ranger Helmet now has weight/value.
• Fixed Gomorrah holdout scripting to properly affect companions.
• Lily now properly uses Stealth Boy when player is sneaking if told to keep it during her quest.
• Fixed exploit where player could get infinite XP for punching Big Sal’s corpse.
• Fixed scripting for For the Republic II where exposing Karl would prematurely complete the objective to destroy the Khans.
• Fixed instance where fast travel was disabled when creating new game post-credits.
• Inventory will now show cumulative weight of item stacks instead of weight of a single item.
• Missile projectiles will no longer show in player’s target HUD.
• Player will now unequip a weapon if consuming it in the crafting menu (fixes crash).
• Weapons with recharging ammo now display ammo properly.
• Fixed rare instance where player could be control-locked if loading an autosave created while lockpicking a transition door.
• Beamsplitter mod fixed to proper DAM/DPS.
• Crafting can no longer create weapons/armor at 100% condition.
• Repair kits can no longer repair to 100% condition.
• Throwing weapons can no longer take damage, and are dropped when shot at 100% condition.
• DT Perks that increase DT based on enemy weapon should function properly.
• Weapons using multiple rounds of ammunition per shot fired now show proper VATS damage estimate.
• Fixed rare case where broken stick of dynamite could crash game if thrown.
• NPCs will now play face cards on player’s stack in Caravan.
• Various tweaks to audio system to improve memory performance.
• Fixed issue where looping reload weapons would get stuck, causing VATS camera to point to the ground.
• Fixed clock/calendar so that it doesn’t reset on a fresh load.
• Fixed .45 auto pistol displaying incorrect condition/value on modding screen.
• Both DAM and DPS now display on workbenches when creating explosives.
• For ammo that reduce spread (like 12ga) effect is now properly applied to spread, not wobble.
• Fixed crash when attempting to enter DLC1 with equipped quest items.
Steam's daily sale of today features Fallout: New Vegas and its DLC, at 70% it's not quite as good a deal as the earlier D2D sale, the main game clocking in at €/$14.99 and the DLC at €/$2.99. The official Prima guide is also available at €/$5.99.
We've seen the subject of New Vegas' approach to sexuality discussed many times before. Some hate it, some love it. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Border House's guest writer likes it, considering the approach of New Vegas that asexuality rather than heterosexuality is the standard to be a positive.
The title of this post is probably my favourite coming-out speech ever, and is a quote from Arcade Gannon, a joinable NPC. It’s smoothly integrated into his background, it’s funny, and it’s normal, just like we are – and just like we are so rarely presented in computer games.
Veronica Santangelo’s coming-out is a little less smooth, bound-up as it is in a random question from the PC about whether she has been in love, but she and Cass are both excellent examples of non-straight characters presented without fuss. They are as well-rounded, if not more, than the straight characters and their sexualities are not the only interesting thing about them. The characters are not straight, but not “other”.
The wider world reflects this sense of ordinariness. Characters respond to your comments as a part of everyday life – which, of course, they are – and it is refreshing to see a positive or neutral response to non-straight sexuality rather than a threatening one.
We also see homophobia presented thoughtfully. My male PC flirts with an NCR soldier who says, ruefully, that he would have professional trouble if he had a public relationship with a man, but that if they ever meet out West where they’re less bigoted, something could happen. What impressed me was the feeling that the writers had considered how this minor character’s personal life could affect his professional life. Details and moments like this enhance the inclusivity of the game – and the worldbuilding as a whole.
1UP's Steve Watts has put together an article that analyzes how accurate the portrayal of Fallout's wasteland is when it comes to the aftermaths of a nuclear war and the sociological aspect. Luckily for us, the article was written with help of two experts: Dr. Curtis Miyamoto, chairperson of the radiation oncology department at Temple University School of Medicine, and Dr. Karen Cerulo, chair of the sociology department at Rutgers University. Excerpt from the article ahead:
In very general terms, Dr. Miyamoto says the world would be livable. "Most of the isotopes would be gone and the half-life would have expired, so they would be safe," Miyamoto told 1UP. Most major fallout products have relatively a short half-life as compared to the dozens of years before vault-dwellers explore the wastes.
On the other hand, it's hard to predict how a body might react if sealed away in a vault, as the plot of Fallout games often requires. "People are exposed to radiation every day, normally, going outside," he said. "You're exposed to more radiation living in Denver [Colorado] than living in New Jersey. So to compare to someone who has never been exposed to radiation, we don't know. What we do know is that the body has innate repair mechanisms. Would those mechanisms be impaired by not having them stimulated at a young age? That scenario doesn't actually exist, so just as conjecture: probably not. Our own body's defense system would be intact and passed on genetically from our parents."
And while irradiated water is a serious threat in Fallout, and even a major plot point in Fallout 3. Miyamoto suggests that wouldn't actually be much of a threat. "I don't think any of the contaminants would still be residual, so I would think the water supply would be relatively safe unless you're near a highly radioactive area."
This week we interviewed Lexx creator of Shattered Destiny and one of FOnline 2228 Developers.
1. Who are you?
I am a Kraut from some place close to Berlin with a rather generic office job. Had a small internet music magazine about industrial (and similar) music many years ago, but it transformed into far too much work beside the normal job and studies, so we closed it after around two years. I was one of the head honchos of the former biggest german Resident Evil fan site even more years ago (later closed as well) and now I am one of the folks behind the german Fallout fan site “FalloutNow!” which is not yet closed and hopefully never will be.
2. What do you do outside of modding?
Currently? Eating, sleeping, working, while working occupies most of my time now. But there also have been days where I could go out with my bike or do some reading. Reading now only occurs during the time I drive to and from my workplace by bus. Biking has been postponed until I buy myself a new bike, because my old one got stolen a few years ago…
3. How did you get into Fallout modding?
I think it was when I've discovered the BIS mapper and the manual in early 2005. I've actually printed the 28 page manual and was reading it in bed. The next day I started to create some maps, which sucked. But I've made more maps, which also sucked. Then there came the idea to create a big new Fallout game, which (surprisingly) sucked, and was far too much work anyway, so it died. I moved everything into the trash bin and then “Shattered Destiny” was born, which - for the first time - didn't suck that much. And here I am now... with three new screens of my current work (sorry, only in German, no translation is done yet). :>
4. What work are you most proud of?
This is a very hard question, because most of the time if I release something, I find a million things on it right after that I don't like anymore and wish to change... but I lack the mood to do so. But I guess that kicking out “Shattered Destiny” for release was a good thing, despite everything that was going wrong with it while I've worked on it.
Ah, another one comes into my mind now: kicking out FOnline: 2238 in around 7 months of work was great. Sure, the game had lots of huge flaws and still has, but in the few months we worked on it pre-beta-release, with only five to six active people (in crunch-mode most of the time), we actually managed to pull off more stuff than many other mod-teams in years! So actually this doesn't seem to be such a hard question anymore, its pretty much what I am most proud of so far.
5. The characters most people roleplay in FOnline: 2238 are mostly PKers or organised gangsters, looking to kill the weak. You don't find many utopian visionaries in the wastes. Do you think this validates the concept of social-Darwinism, or are they just a bunch of FO fans blowing off steam?
Not everyone in the game is a bloodthirsty player killer who regenerates from tears of fallen victims. Most players only do what the game allows them, which is whatever they want, wherever they want, unlike in other MMOs, with real safe-zones and no-PvP zones, where everyone can and will hide all the time in fear of losing everything etc. Additionally, it’s always harder to try to build up something “good” in an open MMO, because there are always people who love to ruin it for everyone… So yeah, call it “blowing off steam,” as I think it’s as close as you can get. If at all, I’d say it proves that anarchism is very instable and will never work. :>
6. You are one of a few well known "one man modding teams." Why did you decide to work on FOnline: 2238, with all the complications that go with dealing with other people egos, while having to placate the famously fussy FO fans at the same time?
In all honesty, I didn't really care about anyone. There was this idea of an online Fallout game and it was fancy and cool and other people’s opinions didn’t matter to me at that time. The only thought I had was too create a living Fallout online world. Really, the idea existed already long before FOnline was in a playable condition, but has never been possible until its first beta release.
I’ve been sliding into the development more by accident, though. I had done one small thing for the game, followed by another small thing, followed by some bigger thing and over the following days, there I was in the team.
But I am still working on Fallout singleplayer stuff every once in a while too. After all, I still have to finish my current Fallout 2 mod, which I don’t want to talk too much about yet, and so on and so on. There are so many dreams and only so little time…
7. You're making Shattered Destiny 2 on your own. Considering your experience in the field, do you have any useful advice for other solo modders out there?
Yes. If you want to create a new mod / a total conversion, create design documents *before* starting anything. If you want to make a new game, start writing down *everything* you can think about. If you feel that there are parts that you have no ideas about, try to fill these holes *before* starting to work on the actual game. Because if you don't work with good design documents, you will soon forget what you wanted to do here and there and hey—wait! What happens if story chapter X and Z is finished, but you have no idea about Y yet? Ah well, let's fill up that hole with something random..!
Sooner or later, working on the game will become a mess (if you continue to work on it anyway- most mods without concept are dead born) and the chances are actually pretty high that you have plot holes and elements that don't make any sense at all. Additionally, creating design documents first will speed up the development later, because you know exactly what you want to do. That’s really important, because working alone means you have to motivate yourself alone as well.
This actually is also a good advice for non-solo modders, if not even more so, because working in a team requires that everyone knows what’s going on.
8. Shattered Destiny was a small mod with a lot of replay value. How do you find the balance between game length and re-playability? Given the feedback, do you feel that replay value is a concept worth championing or that bigger more linear games should be the goal of modders?
This question is killing me. I’ve rewritten my answer already like a million times and I’ll guess I will do it again soon.
I really think that re-playability is worth the time to take care of, but most people do not replay a game or a mod anyway, especially if it feels very long. In the case of Shattered Destiny, despite the mods flaws and its short playtime, the overall feedback was quite positive, but I don’t think that many people replayed it (I never got much feedback regarding this nor do I have any statistics, so I can only guess). But then again, I also can’t say that it’s a masterpiece of re-playability. It’s true that you can’t see everything in only one playthrough, but at least three should pretty much cover it (male, female and low intelligence).
In my opinion, modders that create content for RPGs should always try to cover as much possible quest solutions as they can, not because of re-playability, but to offer the player ways between he can chose, which then adds more possible and deeper roleplaying to the RPG. I’ve never really understand RPGs where the only thing that is "RPG" are character stats and dialogues with the rest of the game being a linear pathway. To me, this really is something that everyone should try to avoid, even if not for re-playability, but at least for role-playings-sake.
9. Where do Fallout 1,2,3,NV rank in your all-time favorite titles?
Fallout 1 is and will always be the first in my favorite titles-list, followed by 2. Though, I have to say there was a time, where I really hated Fallout 2, because *everyone* always just yelled how great that game is, while totally forgetting about the first one, which - in my opinion - is in quite a lot areas simply the better game. As example, while it is not very big in terms of content, it is actually much more detailed when it comes to the game world, encounter design and story… New Vegas follows right after Fo2, because for me it's a pretty good game. Fallout 3 died in 2003, so I don't think it would be fair to rank it by the content of the released design documents. :p
Regarding other games on my fav-list, Monkey Island 1 and 2 are pretty high as well, followed by Jagged Alliance and Incubation. I just love that stuff and try to keep replaying them at least once a year.
10. How do you find the creativity to do this?
I don’t, it’s finding me! No, seriously. I play a game and either I see something I would love to add or I don’t. Other than that, I try to brainstorm every once in a while or ideas come up while watching movies or reading a book. That being said, I don’t think I am a very creative human. I just try to think about something and then I see how I could modify and change and improve on it. Luckily, I like reactive roleplaying games, so for me it’s more about creative solutions for various situations in the game than totally new and groundbreaking gameplay ‘n stuff.
11. Who is your most influential modder?
Oh, easy question! I'd say my most influential modder is actually Neil Manke. Years ago, he has been a really great mapper and modder. By now, I think his name is quite forgotten, but some folks might remember the They Hunger trilogy, USS Darkstar or that Underworld Bloodlines mod for Half-Life, which came from him and his small team. I really loved the mapping and all that fuzz around it, also I've been big into Zombies back then, so They Hunger has been *the* thing anyway. It actually brought me into modding games for real and I've played around with doing Half-Life mods for years. Sadly, the last thing I've heard about Neil Manke (already a few years ago) was that he is ill. I don't really know what’s going on. Hope, all is getting alright, though.
12. Who is your favorite fallout character and why?
I am always happy to see Cabbot, with his silly face and way of talking. But I think my most favorite character is Katja from Fallout 1. She is such an underused companion and so worthless if you pick her up too late in the game (which most likely happens, as you normally don’t go early to her place), but she gives a lot background information about the Boneyard and seems to be a nice person, beside her thievery. Additionally, she has cool hair and can wield a 14mm Pistol… BAAM!
13. What would you prioritise if you survived a nuclear war? (water, procreation, Saviour of knowledge or finding shelter)
Clean water would be pretty important, maybe even more than secure shelter. But then again, what worth is clean water if you die of radiation a bit later. I don’t really know, so I’ll guess I would be one of the first dead in any case.
14. Whats your take on modern RPGs?
If you like action-adventures with some roleplaying game elements included and maybe minor choice & consequence as salt in the soup, the future will be great! If not, well, shit happens. When I was younger, I’ve always thought that future RPGs will have lots of things to do in whatever way you want to do it everywhere and every time with everything in the game: The ultimate reactivity. But that’s a pipedream and modern AAA RPGs will never deliver this, because they are more about cinematic experiences than real roleplaying and I doubt it will ever change again. So stick to modern mantra #123: Indie-RPGs are the way to go; because they can deliver what the niche market wants to have (damn, 10 years ago we have been the AAA market and now we are the niche market? The times they a-changin..).
We reported earlier on Bethesda's renewed motion for a preliminary injunction, which continued to focus on their (in my opinion ridiculous) argument that Interplay could only use the Fallout name. Unsurprisingly, Interplay counter-filed to shoot it down.
"For at least four years, Bethesda has known that Interplay interpreted its right to create the Fallout-branded MMOG to include copyrighted content from the Fallout universe in order to make the MMOG a recognizable Fallout game," the filing reads.
"Bethesda never objected and did not seek an injunction because it knew Interplay was doing exactly what the parties intended under their agreements," the document continues.
Interplay also takes issue with Bethesda's argument that a Fallout MMO would "confuse and confound" Fallout 3 players because of alleged plot conflicts between the games.
"This is ironic because Bethesda contends Interplay should have created an entire game of incompatible story, characters, and art and labeled it Fallout only in name," the document says.
"Since April 2009, Interpay has mapped the MMOG environment including approx 65,500 square miles of in-game terrain."
"Textures, objects and characters have been implemented into the game environment. Base models for player characters and non-player characters have been created. The computer models for many types of creatures have also been designed and the 3D geometry and textures created. Several game zones have been blocked out, textured, and populated w/ 3D objects."
"The initial starting zones for each of the player character races have been designed."
"Many environmental object and weapons models have been created and textured. Some Non-player characters have been placed live in the game. Fallout Online combat, leveling, character development, item crafting, skills, and item stats were written prior to April 2009 and have been tested. Since April 2009, Interplay has refined and further developed its design regarding the funnctioning of player-run towns, social centers, and guild compounds."
"Interplay has created and continues to create additiional concept art and has created and continues to create player and non-player character concepts, names, characterizations, dialog and game scenarios. Quest content and design is ongoing and includes content and mechanics for multi-part intra-zone and dynamic world events and quests. interplay has created and written a large multi-part, game-worldwide meta-puzzle including the puzzle structure, code system, and planned locations, which is designed to foster cooperation and competition among players for an extended time period. Masthead continues to revise and improve its technology, including its game engine, tools, and network software for the specific development of the Fallout MMOG.
WO: What are some of your favourite writing or design achievements in your career? A particular character or quest, perhaps?
MCA: I like the influence system (although not its first iteration in KOTOR II) as a way of making players pay more attention to a companion's philosophy and outlook rather than just Karma, although I prefer the individual NPC influence meters in Alpha Protocol as a more realistic and true-to-the-world feel for how others judge you based on your actions, not some internal player character moral barometer.
As for other experiments: The idea of disparate personalities being forced to cooperate under pressure when they normally would kill each other is something I've always liked. We used this in Fallout New Vegas, Dead Money, and it was an experiment I wanted to try ever since the Planescape days (although in Planescape, the idea would be that a group of hated enemies all had tattoos that prevented them from harming each other and straying too far from each other, and they had to cooperate to escape... sort of like the movie, Cube). Since Planescape wasn't an option, I switched it to a collar in Dead Money and went from there.
As far as characters, I've loved all the characters I've written for different reasons. I loved writing Rose of Sharon Cassidy (FNV, although Rachel Roswell voice-acted her and took her to a new level), Dean Domino and Christine from Dead Money (who shows up in more than one of the Fallout DLCs). For Christine, it was fun to figure out how to "write" a mute character, and the fact she switches voices over the DLCs is kind of interesting as well. I also have a lot of love for Ulysses in Fallout, only because I like the idea of someone hunting my player for reasons of his own, and then hearing the reasons why... and realizing how important even the smallest of my actions are for the people of the wasteland - living or dead.
WO: The RPGs of today have taken on a far more action-oriented approach, as seen through Fallout 3/New Vegas, Mass Effect 2, and Dragon Age 2. For you, what are the essential components that make an RPG an RPG?
MCA: Honoring the player's choices during character creation and advancement by having all choices given be viable tools to succeed in the game world, a world and its people that react and change based on your actions, and that reaction be meaningful for your characters and others. There's a treatise I could write for this - there's exploration, advancement, the ability to play the role you've built, customization, kill-and-loot feedback loop, and more, but the big points are above.
As in, why isn't it being released in the indicated month of June, instead pushed back to July? Matt Grandstaff notes.
We've been working on a new title update to optimize the New Vegas experience, which contains a number of requested bug fixes (we'll have more on to release). We felt it was important to get that ready before releasing Old World Blues, and as a result, it's now coming in July instead of June.
When we have a finalized date for Lonesome Road, we'll share it with everyone.
If that sounds silly to you, remember that these have to go on Xbox and PS3, meaning they first have to have the patch run through certification, and then the DLC. If you want to blame anyone, blame the certification process, it seems the most likely culprit.
We’ve received plenty of inquiries asking when we’ll be releasing Fallout: New Vegas’s third DLC, Old World Blues. Today I can confirm the content will release on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on Tuesday, July 19th.
Prior to release, we will release a new title update for New Vegas. Along with adding support for Old World Blues, the update will bring improvements to performance and stability in major areas.
We’ll also be releasing a new trailer for Old World Blues in the coming weeks. I’ve already seen an early version, and it’s crazy awesome. Until then, today we’re releasing new screenshots on our Facebook or Flickr pages.
Here's what Feargus had to say on New Vegas' bugs and deadlines:
Do you agree that maybe your end ship date was too ambitious for New Vegas, and that was the reason that it shipped with so many bugs?
You know, it’s hard to say. I think, as a developer, it’s not the end date that matters; it’s the dates prior to that. So, if we hit our vertical slice then it makes us really ready for production and then production goes more smoothly. If we then hit our alpha date, then everything after that is pretty much just bug polish, tuning and things like that, then it just guarantees that we hit our end dates and I think that is something that we as a developer, and others out there, all have to get better at. Because there are some dates that can’t be missed, you know.
And on Fallout Online:
Having previously worked at Interplay, and across the Fallout series, what’s your opinion of Interplay’s claim to the Fallout MMO?
To be honest, I have no idea. I had left Interplay before that deal and so I just don’t know anything. It was kind of one of those things where I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and go ‘la-la-la’, just because I didn’t want to know.
How well suited do you think the series is to online play in general?
Actually, I think it’s really well suited, I mean that’s the biggest thing. Ultimately, if you think about it, when you’re playing Fallout, it’s like you are playing in a big open world where you are going after mobs, playing Player-Versus-Environment. So it’s almost like you’re playing a PVE game but by yourself, so I think that the game really lends itself to having this big world. And, of course, how the IP works, crazy is normal, so you can have crazy stuff. Like when there is just some weird-ass guy researching Mole Rats in some corner of the world and he’s made Mole Rat Land, so I think that helps it as well. It’s a world where people expect to find the unexpected around the corner and so it just fits.
Feargus also goes on subjects like how it was to work on a new Fallout game, the dumbing down of RPGs in recent years and various Obsidian-related stuff in the full interview, making it a worthy read all around.
Until July 4th, Good Old Games is putting its entire Interplay catalogue on sale, each title 50%. If for some bizarre reason you do not own Fallout 1, 2 or Tactics (or were just looking for a cheap backup/replacement copy), here's your chance.