After a year and a half of mulling over the idea, Thwacke's Sebastian Alvarado officially set up shop in April. He was pushed by a frustration with games that tend to use science and technology as a kind of unexplained magic to make things work in a fictional world. Take the "genetic memories" that power the time-spanning animus in the Assassin's Creed games. Alvarado, an expert in evolutionary genetics himself, says there's actually something to the concept of passing down learning through genes. Still, "DNA is such an easy cop-out these days," he told Ars. "It's an easy way to explain all that, and they just expect the player to say, 'Well he said DNA so now I have to buy the story.' It's like a magic gateway.
The scientists found the humble hermit crab was a likely candidate for post-nuclear survival, thanks to its ability to absorb radiation in its shell and then discard it during a molting cycle. That's the academically valid, scientific part. But since this is still a video game, they wanted to make sure it was a little "off the wall" as Alvarado put it. "We used radiation as a very simple gaming mechanism to argue that it makes animals super large, because everyone knows radiation makes things super-large… we'll just take that one as a granted," he said, laughing. "So let's let these hermit crabs get [so big] they can't find housing in their conventional shell and they'll actually seek housing in a bus or a telephone booth or something like that."
Alvarado agrees wholeheartedly. "I know some people are saying, 'Oh, I don't want Wasteland 2 to be scientifically accurate or realistic, because that would ruin such an off the wall game,' we're not doing that at all. … We know that the game would be pretty boring if it had to be 100 percent realistic. We're trying to add some science facts on to their fiction just to give it a bit more grounding in reality. If you happen to identify with some of the actual science, you enjoy it that much more. If you don't, that's fine, you're still going to enjoy the game."