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Default Fallout: New Vegas - The Rhythm of the Quest

February 5th, 2012, 03:29
Joystiq has a piece titled The Rhythm of the Quest in Fallout 3 and New Vegas that argues Fallout 3 has more "rhythm" variation than New Vegas, which makes for a better game. As far as I can tell, this boils done to preferring the exploration in FO3 over F:NV - beyond that, I'm not sure I follow the argument. A bit on the underlying premise:
Video games have a certain rhythm to them. Really, they have several different rhythms to them. Musician and critic Kirk Hamilton has written eloquently on the subject, focusing on the moment-to-moment rhythms of games. But there's also a broader rhythm, which comes down to what you spend your time on overall. In Gears Of War, it's simple. You start a fight, you win the fight, reinforcements appear, you beat them, you explore the area, you move along, watch a cutscene, and then pick another fight to start the rhythm again. RPGs have these rhythms too, usually based around quest structure.

The conventional quest rhythm of the modern RPG started with the original Fallout, back in 1997, as so many things did. It was refined by BioWare in Knights Of The Old Republic, and in multiple MMRPGs. The game's main quest guides your character to a central location a hub usually a town, where multiple characters offer you quests. If you're like me, you load up on as many of these as possible, and then try to clear them up as efficiently as possible.
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February 5th, 2012, 03:29
Wonder if the fact that Fallout 3 has more explorable areas had anything to do with it getting 4 years of development (2004 to 2008) and New Vegas took less than 2 years (2009 to 2010) and had less than half the budget?

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February 5th, 2012, 04:24
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
Wonder if the fact that Fallout 3 has more explorable areas had anything to do with it getting 4 years of development (2004 to 2008) and New Vegas took less than 2 years (2009 to 2010) and had less than half the budget?
I doubt it.

I think it's simply due to the fact that Obsidian emphasized different aspects. The shorter development time didn't prevent FO:NV from having 25,000 more lines of dialogue than FO3.
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February 5th, 2012, 04:48
What a load of weakly argued, semantic rubbish. The writer fails to adequately incorporate and consider the immediate role that the player has in creating and altering these so called quest "rhythms"; the concept of which isn't made clear to begin with.

I'm talking particularly about New Vegas here and his response to it, since I flatly reject that it is somehow less "explorable" or that the game subscribes to a more classical quest hub, since the reverse seems more true when you consider the choice and consequence deficit between the two games.

Don't like the circadian ease of progression through a quest hub? Make the central player choice to change it up; use one of the virtues of the open world design in being able to wander off and find differing levels of challenge - don't blame the game if it's somehow not moving or changing to your desired "rhythm". Break it up and mould your own rhythm.

Case in point was during my most recent playthrough of New Vegas. I made the choice and effort to move towards Quarry Junction as early as possible (after some early questing naturally) rather than follow the more traditional (and logical) route of following the main quest from Primm to Nipton, around to Novac, Boulder City and New Vegas for example. My playstyle was such that I never made it to the Strip until I was already level 20 or so and didn't find as much motivation to explore the Strip content, instead saving my character for the DLC.

Is that the fault of some kind of vague notion of rhythm in the game's design?
No, it's merely the consequence of my choice (and this particular character's) play-style.

Whilst I think this particular editorial is severely lacking in detail and coherence of argument, I'm sure it'll generate some fascinating discussion.

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Last edited by Pessimeister; February 5th, 2012 at 08:53.
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February 5th, 2012, 05:29
Couldn't put it any better myself Pessimeister! And he even says that Skyrim expands on exploration "rhythm" of Fallout 3. Skyrim is full of hubs! True, a lot of quests can be picked up wile exploring but that's a player choice not game requirement.
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February 6th, 2012, 11:32
I consider Fallout 3 far superior to New Vegas, personally - but that's all down to subjective tastes.

Technically, I think NV is a mess. Even with all up-to-date patches, it's still shock full of visual quirks and flaws (horrible LOD z-fighting, floating objects, awkward textures, etc.) - and the art is downright bad. The game looks awful compared to Fallout 3 - which had a much better sense of style and the world was made with much more care.

Also, NV feels like a western more than anything - where as Fallout 3 had a more appealing sci-fi/post apoc atmosphere - at least to me. I dislike desert areas - and NV was one big desert.

Beyond that, New Vegas is more directed and linear unless you deliberately go against the flow. That's not to say it's not possible - just that the game isn't presented in that way.

What NV does better is dialogue and C&C. Much better, actually.

Sadly, the overall experience is taken down several notches because of the bugs and flaws.

If only Bethesda knew how to write dialogue and implement proper C&C, their games would be that much better.

Still, I'd say Skyrim is much better than their past work in that way.

Obsidian should be ashamed of the state their games are released in, in my opinion. I have no idea why people are so forgiving of their inexcusably shoddy work in technical terms - but I guess it's because they're one of the few developers who care about intricate C&C.

Well, ok, Dungeon Siege 3 was technically polished - but if you look at KotOR2, NWN2, Alpha Protocol and New Vegas - they ALL suffer serious technical issues.
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