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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Fallout 3 - Why Bethsoft Needs Fallout

Default Fallout 3 - Why Bethsoft Needs Fallout

April 20th, 2007, 03:09
Duck and Cover staffer Mr Teatime has written a piece titled Why Bethesda needs Fallout like Vault 13 needs a Waterchip on his personal blog. There's a disclaimer in the leadin that the point of the article is to prompt discussion and not to take every point seriously, so, with that in mind - here's the opening gambit:
A few weeks ago, Kieron Gillen predicted that Fallout 3 “will disappoint Fallout fans and delight everyone else”. He questioned why Bethesda bought the license if they could have an easier time of it just developing their own post-apocalyptic RPG from scratch. Why bother with a sequel if the fans of the series will be disappointed? His conclusion: “Bethesda are just dirty big Fallout fans and would love to play in the Sandbox.” I think there’s more to it than that; ultimately, Bethesda needs Fallout. What’s more, they need Fallout 3 to please the fans. They didn’t need Fallout before announcing they had started work on the game, but they do now. It’s quite a journey getting to that conclusion, but take a seat next to this burning oil drum, help yourself to some rotgut… well, it’s mostly rotgut; don’t worry about the lumps… and let me explain.
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April 20th, 2007, 03:09
Can't believe I'm the first to comment on this…
This is about the single most thoughtful and sensible thing I've seen written about Bethesda, Fallout and the fans.
Unfortunately, by now the decisions vis a vis turn-based combat, the SPECIAL system and every other major game engine feature have already been made.
We aren't privy to this information yet, but there's really no point trying to convince the developers of anything. By now I'm sure it's all set in stone and the wheels in motion (and any other cliches you can think of off the top of your head).
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April 20th, 2007, 04:06
As I've commented over at the Codex, sounded a bit delusional. Bethesda doesn't need the vocal Fallout fans; the next entry on the series will sell regardless of their input. They have the support of their fans and of those who will buy the game based on name alone.
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April 20th, 2007, 07:22
Just got around to reading the whole thing. I enjoyed the read, but, I think there's some sleight of hand: the article pretends to prove the point but it actually just makes some assertions without building any real logic. For example, DX:IW and Ultima 9 are used as examples of what happens when fans are betrayed…the problem is, both of those are bad (or flawed or at least mediocre) games, which is the real cause of their failure. What happens if Fallout 3 is a great game by mainstream standards?

To be fair, Teatime points out the article shouldn't be analysed line by line, so perhaps I'm missing the point.

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April 20th, 2007, 08:02
Fallout 3 will either be a True Fallout or FOBOS 2. Don't even pretend there are other possibilities, Chuck Cuevas.

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April 20th, 2007, 08:47
“will disappoint Fallout fans and delight everyone else”.
doesnt take Nostradamus to figure that one out
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April 20th, 2007, 10:06
He does have a couple of good points in there, and Interplay blew a bundle on BOS, so Beth could still end up with egg on their face over this!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 20th, 2007, 12:10
The article features a nice theory, but nothing more. I too enjoyed the read, especially because it's on the funny side, but I seriously doubt Bethesda really needs the few FO hardcore fans that are left… at least not in terms of support or sales. The hardcore fans are playing along just fine, as far as I see it. I don't think I've ever seen a game that got so much press coverage with so little information being released. We don't even know the most fundamental things about the game, but FO is all over the message boards - how much better can it get?
Partly this is a problem of the press, especially magazines on the internet, e.g. RPGwatch.com (no offense guys - you know, I love you), that feature every single bit of news that is even remotely related to FO or Bethesda. If Pete Hines farts they will publish an article "Pete Hines loudly farted!!!" - and some idiotic hardcore FO fan will comment on the article saying, "omg, omg, omg… they gonna screw up FO3!" And then the big discussion begins; FO fans and Oblivion fans alike will fall in to the discussion, and of course everyone of them knows exactely what the game will be like, and who will enjoy it and who not. Safe to say the ability of clearvoyance is widely spread among the FO and Oblivion fans.

Déjà vu…

If you're looking for an answer why Bethesda has acquired the FO license in the first place, then this might be one possible explanation. The informational value of such articles is pretty much zero, still people are discussing about it, and that's some nice advertisment. It's hard to avoid hearing about FO these days.
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April 20th, 2007, 16:15
I can say I dont like when someone is saying as thou he is the only real FO fan. Fallout is my one of the most favorite game ever. But I'd say really great game vant be great just on account of it's isometric and turn-based. Not at all. Fallout is great because of its world and people (yes, people not characters) and the way it allows me to interact with them. So if Fallout 3 will be somewhere close to previous two reguarding the spirit of the series I will like it even if it'll be a real-time shooter. But if it'll turn out to be an isometric turn-based Oblivion…

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April 20th, 2007, 21:26
As with many of you, I felt it was an enjoyable read. It was a very well written piece of rhetoric. I swear I heard an anthem playing the background as I read it. And I certainly want to believe it. It would mean much to the hardcore RPG community as a whole and not just the FO-rabid were he to be right. But I can't say I think there's much merit to his assertions. I guess I'll just hope that I'm wrong.
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April 20th, 2007, 23:08
I've always enjoyed Mr Teatime's posts on various fora. This was indeed an interesting read, not because I have a personal feeling for Fallout, but because I have a mental investment in the world of RPG's. I think there is some truth behind his logic here:

Furthermore, if a developer attempts to slice the fans from Fallout like a cancerous growth, that developer’s reputation and thus future will suffer. Despite the no-doubt positive initial reviews, any future mention of it (and it will be mentioned again and again whenever the company makes a new game) will include the obligatory tagline: ‘… but the game’s fanbase didn’t like it because… ’.
How much impact it might have is the problem, I guess. As Mr. Teatime points out, fans are a pretty disposable and interchangeable commodity to most big outfits. They're a sort of unwelcome necessity.

I get the feeling from PR releases, that most of the time even when cashing in on a previous title in a series, the hope of the publisher is to draw crowds from as wide and uninvolved a base as possible, thus relieving them of the need to meet anyone's expectations.

It is nice to think that companies listen and care about the reasons people spend money on their products, but I think the logic is more "How can we make Them like what we have?" rather than "How can we make what They would like to buy?"

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April 21st, 2007, 05:59
I have a feeling Bethesda is going to get this game right. I have no clue why I feel that way, but I think Fallout 3 is going to be a pretty cool game.
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April 21st, 2007, 14:19
But I'd say really great game vant be great just on account of it's isometric and turn-based. Not at all. Fallout is great because of its world and people (yes, people not characters) and the way it allows me to interact with them. So if Fallout 3 will be somewhere close to previous two reguarding the spirit of the series I will like it even if it'll be a real-time shooter. But if it'll turn out to be an isometric turn-based Oblivion…
I completly agree. The most important thing is the fallout spirit. It is reflected not only from the visuals, but the way world is portrayed. and how people act in it. I think one of the greatest thing in fallout was the huge number of different ways to play it. and dialogs and everything was writen incredibly well. And yes part of the charm derives the fact it wasn't always politically correct game.

Regarding gameplay elements. I hope they keep the same character creation and skill system. And I hope to see turn based combat (why change something which isn't broken?!). Real time combat ala deus ex wouldn't be the end of the world, but it has to be more than just a shooter.

Originally Posted by Sir Markus View Post
I have a feeling Bethesda is going to get this game right. I have no clue why I feel that way, but I think Fallout 3 is going to be a pretty cool game.
AND if f3 is a terrible game! we all have someone to blame
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April 22nd, 2007, 15:58
Hey guys…

Glad you liked the article. There was one point brought up here I wanted to comment on by Ionstormsucks:

"The article features a nice theory, but nothing more. I too enjoyed the read, especially because it's on the funny side, but I seriously doubt Bethesda really needs the few FO hardcore fans that are left… at least not in terms of support or sales. The hardcore fans are playing along just fine, as far as I see it. I don't think I've ever seen a game that got so much press coverage with so little information being released. We don't even know the most fundamental things about the game, but FO is all over the message boards - how much better can it get?"

This is a very good thing. It means that as soon as any detail gets released - such as combat style - it'll explode across all those internet forums, in the context of what the fans who had been desperate for any information (ie. the hardcore) think of it. The first PR for the game will come from the fans, and if it's all over the internet at the moment like you say it is, even with no information to go on, it'll be exponentially bigger when some details are released.

It also means that factors that might seem insignificant to the mainstream press (ie the combat, the viewpoint, the way stats are handled) will get their fair amount of coverage. I'd put money on the first mainstream PR, and probably the stuff afterwards, will also be talked about in terms of the fans' reaction to it (alongside the writer saying how cool it looks, of course). I don't think there will be unconditional gushing praise here.

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April 23rd, 2007, 00:57
They're certain to comment someday, and I wouldn't be surprised if they accepted some of this as flattery. "Yep, we did do a little of that..hehe." But privately, I suspect Bethseda sees it differently.

Shortly after he left The Beatles, a reporter asked Paul McCartney to comment on his enormous success with his brand-new band, Wings. He put his answer in perspective, pointing out that he could probably record "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and have success with it, because he was that hot at the moment. Just for kicks, he did. And he did.

Bethseda is smokin' hot right now, and they may be struggling a bit with that success (Pete Hines in particular). I think Bethseda is making this game because they think they can do it any way they want and still get a hit.

We'll find out.
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April 23rd, 2007, 16:13
Originally Posted by Mr. Teatime View Post
This is a very good thing. It means that as soon as any detail gets released - such as combat style - it'll explode across all those internet forums, in the context of what the fans who had been desperate for any information (ie. the hardcore) think of it. The first PR for the game will come from the fans, and if it's all over the internet at the moment like you say it is, even with no information to go on, it'll be exponentially bigger when some details are released.

It also means that factors that might seem insignificant to the mainstream press (ie the combat, the viewpoint, the way stats are handled) will get their fair amount of coverage. I'd put money on the first mainstream PR, and probably the stuff afterwards, will also be talked about in terms of the fans' reaction to it (alongside the writer saying how cool it looks, of course). I don't think there will be unconditional gushing praise here.
Right, but how many additional people will forum word of mouth actually reach? I have no solid idea about the numbers, but I'd have thought the uninformed masses who buy something they see on TV/in the game stores are so huge in number it'd make the few thousand(?) that would buy it only after forum word of mouth pretty insignificant.
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April 24th, 2007, 10:26
Originally Posted by Mr. Teatime View Post
It also means that factors that might seem insignificant to the mainstream press (ie the combat, the viewpoint, the way stats are handled) will get their fair amount of coverage. I'd put money on the first mainstream PR, and probably the stuff afterwards, will also be talked about in terms of the fans' reaction to it (alongside the writer saying how cool it looks, of course). I don't think there will be unconditional gushing praise here.
Again, I kinda hate it to talk about something although so little is known about it. I hate to speculate, and I hate it if others speculate. Right now, everyone predicts that Bethesda will make a commercially successful game that will appeal to the mass market, but not to the hardcore fans. But fact is - we don't know that. After all it's possible that they come up with a game that plays and feels like the original Fallout (not very likely, but theoretically it's possible). It is also possible that they will come up with a game concept that no one has taken into account yet… so it's not only very difficult what players will say about the game, it's also very difficult to predict how the press will react. Just imagine Bethesda would come up with a combat system similar to UFO:Afterlight. It would be very hard for FO fans to justify a "true" turn-based combat system in such a case.

I've learned my lesson a few years ago when I was vehemently fighting against Spector's plans to bring Thief to the console, and to change certain gameplay aspects that were (at least from my point of view) essential to the Thief gameplay (hence my name). The overall tenor of the Thief community was that Ionstorm will screw up Thief 3.
The results were different from what both sides expected. The game wasn't as bad as most fans feared (although it also wasn't as good as many wished), but it also was not very successful just because it was cross-platform, or of the changed gameplay aspects - something that Spector had counted on. But in restrospective I have to admit that I seriously doubt that even if Spector had created a game more appealing to the hardcore fans it would have made the game more succesful. And to be honest, I also have to admit that today I doubt that I would like the game better if Spector had kept the rope arrow, larger levels, etc. I, like many other players, felt that the game was good, but not brilliant, like the first two parts… but if that had only to do with a few minor gameplay aspects… I don't know…
Now, what I want to say is - success is hard to predict. There seem to be various aspects that influence the final outcome.

But back to FO:
The greatest problem that the hardcore part of the FO community seems to face nowadays is that their credibility is suffering. The personal attacks on Bethesda staff for example make it hard to take such a community seriously. There also seems to be almost no criticism around concerning Interplay, which is surprising if you take into account that it was Interplay's decision to seel the license to Bethesda in the first place.
I was on NMA yesterday and I saw that they proudly presented the polls (concerning gameplay, etc.) from the official FO3 forums. Of course the results were very pleasant for the hardcore fans. But c'mon - they don't really believe that a poll where 250 people voted is representative, do they? The overwhelming majority of players of a game does not even visit a message board unless they have a technical problem.

I think that the guys from Bethesda already have their defense in case the press should ask about changed gameplay aspects. Actually they already used it: "Whatever we gonna do, some people will not like it." And considering how parts of the hardcore fans behaved in the past this is a rather strong argument.
And I am more and more getting the feeling that there is something to that argument. Hardcore FO fans seem to wish for a FO 3 that is similar to its predecessor in every single aspect. But even if Bethesda wanted to fulfill their wishes they are facing a dilemma. While Fallout might be cult, it has never been very successful in terms of sales numbers. The license might get you some cheap pr, but doesn't garantuee a game that actually sells. And let's be honest, if I were someone responsible to create a game at Bethesda I'd think twice before making a roleplaying game that is dialogue heavy and turn-based. Some people might consider such conditions a triple disadvantage.
But then again Bethesda might be one of the very few companies that can afford to make exactely such a game, and turn it into a very successful license - it all depends on how much risks they are willing to take.

Now, I always considered myself a big FO fan. I live in Germany, and at the time FO 1 was released it wasn't exactely easy to get an original US copy over here. But I did not want to wait just play some cut German copy of the game, so I invested quite a bit of money and time to get my hands on an original.
Recently I installed Fallout 2 again… I'm still a fan. But I also have to admit that FO wasn't as perfect as I had it in mind… especially not in terms of gameplay. I came to the conclusion that it was the spirit of FO that I liked in the first place. The freedom, the detail, the dialogue, the atmosphere. I could imagine that in the end these aspects will be much more decisive in terms of success than technical gameplay aspects.

I'm so totally NOT responding to the passage from Mr. Teatime I quoted up there, am I? So I'll use at least the last paragraph to do that…

The press seems to be very benevolent when it comes to Bethesda. And I somehow doubt much will change. Thing is, the press needs Bethesda, but they don't need the FO fans. It's Bethesda that has the information that matters, and it has become something of a bad habit, that magazines are obviously willing to give up their own credibility for a few exclusive screenshots.
I'm sure once in a while some dashing journalist will ask Bethesda about criticism coming from the FO community, but such criticism will be easily dismissed by making use of typical developer-rethorics ("we believe in our Game…", "we're big Fallout fans…", etc).
In my opinion the basic decisions about the game were made a long time ago, and I seriously doubt that any criticism coming from the fans will be able to change Bethesda's concept (whatever that might be). If you have a look at games like Thief 3, Ultima 9, or Deus Ex 2 - there also was a lot of criticism coming from the fans, but it didn't change anything. Sad, but true.
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April 24th, 2007, 19:13
Very well said ISS, that was a very thoughtful comment. (And I'd always wondered about your nick, a name like that can only come from a spurned gamer. )

I worry that the severe polarization on this issue hurts the hardcore fans more than it helps. Once people dismiss hardcore fans as fanatics (yes, yes, I know the etymology of "fan", but you know what I mean) they'll tend to stop listening to what can be very constructive comments. That's why I'm trying to be more moderate both in my comments and my expectations. The additional benefit of this is that when the game comes out, I'm less likely to reject it on principle and just hopefully enjoy the experience, whatever it may be. I hope. I hope.
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April 24th, 2007, 19:22
ISS wrote:
In my opinion the basic decisions about the game were made a long time ago, and I seriously doubt that any criticism coming from the fans will be able to change Bethesda's concept (whatever that might be). If you have a look at games like Thief 3, Ultima 9, or Deus Ex 2 - there also was a lot of criticism coming from the fans, but it didn't change anything. Sad, but true.
I agree that the basic decisions have probably been made, and that it is probably hard to imagine anyone alienating the devs more than the hardcore FO fans have with Bethsoft, but there are cases where fans have exerted influence on developers in a positive way for all concerned.

I remember when the Obsidian boards went up, a lot of argumentation and flaming went on, but the devs there did indeed listen to the community and it did effect the way they built NWN2. I remember a long thread about NPCs and Henchmen, and what fans thought was right and wrong about the way NWN1 handled these things. When the game came out, low and behold, a great many of the ideas and criticisms fans had about what they preferred had been implemented. Obviously, they couldn't please everyone but flawed as the game was, a lot of the reason I ended up playing it to the finish and would be willing to buy an expansion/sequel is because they did listen and implement those things.

Of course, Bethesda is not Obsidian or Bioware.

I do believe that fans can help shape a game. I just don't know if the FO fans will be able to do so in this case.

Best of luck to 'em, though, since I think they care more than most about what happens to the franchise.

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April 24th, 2007, 20:59
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
I do believe that fans can help shape a game. I just don't know if the FO fans will be able to do so in this case.
Hey, I'm not saying the fans should not voice their opinions. Actually I think people should do exactely that if they care for a game - after all I did it myself. I just think that it will do them more good if they do it in a rather moderate way. The official boards that just opened a few days ago are probably their best chance to start an open discourse with the developers from Bethesda.

Believe me when I say that I can see the dilemma the fallout community is facing. A third part of their favourite game is within reach - unfortunately the game is developped by a company that so far created games that were the exact opposite of
the original FO. Add to that Bethesda's secrecy and some very strange bits and pieces of information that leaked out so far and you'll get a community that is torn apart between their hopes and fears.
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