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Default Fallout 3 - Interview @ Play.tm

August 4th, 2007, 05:37
Emil Pagliarulo talks to Play.tm in an interview on Fallout 3. He starts out correcting the interviewer on some misconceptions but goes on to embrace a more actionised Fallout:
The game has gone from isometric view, squad based strategy to a mix of first-person RPG. How has the spirit of a turn-based strategy game been preserved in an engine that more closely resembles Oblivion than the original Fallout? Does the presence of this new title on Xbox 360 and PS3 reflect the swing towards action rather than RPG?
You know, I think there's somewhat of a misconception concerning the original Fallout, and the type of gameplay it offered. Fallout wasn't a turn-based strategy game… it wasn't a turn-based RPG for that matter. It was real-time RPG with turn-based combat. So capturing the spirit of Fallout really has nothing to do with where you put your camera. It has nothing to do with your engine. It has everything to do with the way you approach the setting, the characters, the ironic humor, that sort of thing.
Now, talking about combat specifically, that's when the original Fallout switched to turn-based mode. In recognition of that - of the player's wish to think and act tactically - we have V.A.T.S., the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. Using this system, you can pause the action and make important tactical decisions. So in this regard, it's sort of the best of both worlds: you have the excitement of a real-time game, but at the push of a button you can pause the action, take a breath, survey the situation, and then resolve combat using your character's skills.
As for a perceived swing toward action, I honestly don't think the platform has anything to do with it. Bethesda's games - even going as far back as Arena on the PC - have always had a strong action component. Oblivion is a pretty fast-paced game, by traditional RPG standards. I mean, that's one of the things that sets Bethesda's games apart all others. And there's a reason for that - those are the games we like to play. So, you know, it's only natural those are the games we prefer to make. And our previous successes have shown us that we're not alone - there are multitudes of gamers out there who enjoy more action-oriented RPGs.
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August 4th, 2007, 05:37
The game has gone from isometric view, squad based strategy to a mix of first-person RPG.
What?

Interviewees must hate these ignorant interviewers but they have to put on a happy face and grin and bear it.
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August 4th, 2007, 06:03
Indeed, comparing Fallout to strategy games is.. well, suffice to say we're dealing with apples and oranges.
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August 4th, 2007, 09:24
Could have been a reference to Fallout Tactics. There was a strategy element in Fallout as well but called it a squad based strategy game is clearly wrong (unless he is referring to tactics)

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August 4th, 2007, 09:54
The strategy element in Tic-Tac-Toe puts the strategy element in FO to shame.
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August 4th, 2007, 15:55
I really hope that they will include an option to play without the V.A.T.S.
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August 4th, 2007, 18:00
No need to hope, they've already said they will. V.A.T.S. is a mode you can enter; if you don't want to, you can play it like any ol' FPS.
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August 4th, 2007, 21:26
People misuse the word strategy when they mean tactical all the time. Players, gaming press, developers and publishers confuse the two so much that any time they say one, and it doesn't make much sense, just replace it with the other and it'll probably be what they meant.
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August 7th, 2007, 06:53
AHHH ok enough, I've tried to stay quiet on this but for the love of god these guys at good old Beth need to just say what they mean. They bought the game license and want to change everything that made the game good in the first place. They need to stop trying convince everyone that fallout 1 and 2 are really something they are NOT. A real time strategy game with turnbased combat? uh huh and I guess all the RPG's I've ever played were actually strategy games too. So in this line of thinking the reverse could be true, Masters Of Magic is not a strategy game but really an RPG? When did we enter bizarro land?

Bottom line Beth we know your going to make the game into what you want so stop trying to convince everyone that Fallout 1 and 2 were anything like what your making now. Just stick to your guns (pun intended) and say that we're making the game nothing like the original other than the setting. There was that so hard to say

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Last edited by skavenhorde; August 7th, 2007 at 06:54. Reason: punctuation
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August 7th, 2007, 13:13
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
AHHH ok enough, I've tried to stay quiet on this but for the love of god these guys at good old Beth need to just say what they mean. They bought the game license and want to change everything that made the game good in the first place.
Try this on for a thought experiment.

Keep the FO engine. Everything about it — S.P.E.C.I.A.L., the combat mechanics, the painted backgrounds and isometric perspective, the dialog tree mechanics, the works.

Replace the dialog by flat, bland, generic writing. Replace the many ways of solving "quests" with simple, linear ones. Replace the wacky, retro-futurist visuals with bland, generic sci-fi stuff. Replace the fleshed-out characters with quest-o-mats.

Would you want to play this game?

If not, do you still feel that the mechanics are what made FO1-2 great?

I think that it's the stuff that we ripped out in this thought experiment that made FO1-2 great — and this stuff can be realized in just about any gaming medium, from a text-only Infocom adventure to a seamless first-person sandbox explorer.

Whether Bethsoft is up to actually doing it is another question altogether.

They need to stop trying convince everyone that fallout 1 and 2 are really something they are NOT. A real time strategy game with turnbased combat? uh huh and I guess all the RPG's I've ever played were actually strategy games too. So in this line of thinking the reverse could be true, Masters Of Magic is not a strategy game but really an RPG? When did we enter bizarro land?
Um… where did Beth claim that FO1-2 were real-time strategy games? It was the interviewer that called them strategy games, Beth corrected him by describing them as a real-time RPG's with turn-based combat, which is entirely accurate.

Bottom line Beth we know your going to make the game into what you want so stop trying to convince everyone that Fallout 1 and 2 were anything like what your making now. Just stick to your guns (pun intended) and say that we're making the game nothing like the original other than the setting. There was that so hard to say
"Nothing like the original other than the setting, the branching quests, the morality dimension, and the dark humor" appears to be the gist of what they're saying. Again, whether they can actually *do* this is another question altogether — but if what they're saying is a reflection of their real design goals, I'd say they have their priorities about right. After all, if they already have the pretty solid Oblivion game engine to play with, they can concentrate on the stuff that matters rather than designing mechanics.
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August 7th, 2007, 13:37
Yes. Because the least relevant part of a game is what it plays like…

…oh wait.
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August 7th, 2007, 13:59
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Yes. Because the least relevant part of a game is what it plays like…

…oh wait.
I would say that the least relevant part of a *role-playing game* is what it plays like, as long as it isn't bad enough to actually get in the way of enjoying the substance. If the substance is good enough, an RPG can be good, even great, even with frankly bad gameplay. Planescape: Torment, for example. (And I for one won't miss the incredibly tedious combat mechanics in FO1-2.)

There are games, of course, where the game is the gameplay — chess or football, for example. But RPG's? Nah.
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August 7th, 2007, 14:59
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I would say that the least relevant part of a *role-playing game* is what it plays like, as long as it isn't bad enough to actually get in the way of enjoying the substance. If the substance is good enough, an RPG can be good, even great, even with frankly bad gameplay. Planescape: Torment, for example. (And I for one won't miss the incredibly tedious combat mechanics in FO1-2.)

There are games, of course, where the game is the gameplay — chess or football, for example. But RPG's? Nah.
So if it were a racing game with good dialogue…?

You're not talking about absolute here, just gradation. To you, it doesn't matter if it's real-time first-person or turn-based isometric, because they're both modes of gameplay that work fine for RPGs.

I agree, I just also know that the Fallout franchise design was based on a different philosophy than that one, and don't consider myself superior to the original devs as to declare what in their original design was "necessary" to make it Fallout and what wasn't.
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August 7th, 2007, 15:32
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
So if it were a racing game with good dialogue…?
I did not say "any medium period." I said "just about any gaming medium, from a text-only Infocom adventure to a seamless first-person sandbox explorer." Chess, football, or a racing game are off this continuum.

I'm sure you understood my intent, so I don't find it very helpful to twist words that way.

You're not talking about absolute here, just gradation. To you, it doesn't matter if it's real-time first-person or turn-based isometric, because they're both modes of gameplay that work fine for RPGs.
Correct. I don't care what the mode is, as long as it's one that can carry enough substance to make a RPG. I do have a (slight) preference for first-person real-time.

Look at it this way: cRPG's are about recreating an interactive reality through the medium of an abstraction that lives inside a computer. In my view, the closer you can bring the abstraction to experienced reality — even an imagined, unrealistic reality — the greater the immersion and the broader the palette that can be used for storytelling.

I agree, I just also know that the Fallout franchise design was based on a different philosophy than that one, and don't consider myself superior to the original devs as to declare what in their original design was "necessary" to make it Fallout and what wasn't.
So, instead you prefer to stick timidly to a gameplay mode dictated by the limits of the technology in 1995?
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August 7th, 2007, 15:51
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
So, instead you prefer to stick timidly to a gameplay mode dictated by the limits of the technology in 1995?
I wouldn't, except that Fallout's design choices were consciously made and have nothing to do with limits of technology in the way you're trying to make it look. As Tim Cain puts it (in 2004) "I think the strength of Fallout's combat system is that it was easy to understand and use, but still complex enough to give you many options on how to fight. Turn-based combat gives you more time to think of battle tactics, so combat feels richer - and a lot of people responded to that. (…) It also showed how popular and fun turn-based combat could be, when everyone else was going with real-time or pause-based combat."

Or as Leonard Boyarsky puts it (also in 2004) "I donít know how I would have felt about making FO3 anything but isometric and turn based. We did have an extremely high budget idea for another approach, but even in that scenario combat was isometric and turn based."

In my view, the closer you can bring the abstraction to experienced reality — even an imagined, unrealistic reality — the greater the immersion and the broader the palette that can be used for storytelling.
In my view, that's just one method of storytelling. Last time I checked, theaters didn't stop producing just because movies exist. I see no reason why all games should fit a single mould when you can easily produce a rich rainbow of diverse game-types.
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August 7th, 2007, 16:24
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
I wouldn't, except that Fallout's design choices were consciously made and have nothing to do with limits of technology in the way you're trying to make it look.
I very much doubt that, despite your quotes. Truly immersive real-time combat wasn't possible to do in 1995, so TB was a sensible design choice (even if in FO's case it fell badly flat in execution). I can totally understand that Boyarsky & co would want to stick with it even in 2004 (out of sheer conservatism for one thing) — but that doesn't mean that it would be a good decision.

My main beef with the TB camp is that they often make it sound like FO combat is some shining pinnacle of gameplay glory. It isn't: it's dull, tedious, unimaginative, and repetitive, and has less tactical challenge than Tic-Tac-Toe. Its only saving grace is the funny death animations. I almost stopped playing FO2 the first time around because the dungeon crawls are such unmitigated tedium; in fact that's what's stopping me from re-playing it now.

Combat is by far the worst thing about FO. The game is great despite it, not because of it. (God I hate rats!)

In my view, that's just one method of storytelling. Last time I checked, theaters didn't stop producing just because movies exist. I see no reason why all games should fit a single mould when you can easily produce a rich rainbow of diverse game-types.
Exactly. There's no reason at all why all Fallout games should fit a single mold, when you can easily produce them in a rich rainbow of diverse game-types.
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August 7th, 2007, 17:12
Great discussion, you two. It sums up all the endless discussions on the FO3 forums in a few well written and soberly argued posts. This should be published somewhere. Seriously.
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August 7th, 2007, 17:25
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I very much doubt that, despite your quotes. Truly immersive real-time combat wasn't possible to do in 1995, so TB was a sensible design choice (even if in FO's case it fell badly flat in execution). I can totally understand that Boyarsky & co would want to stick with it even in 2004 (out of sheer conservatism for one thing) — but that doesn't mean that it would be a good decision.
It doesn't matter if it's good, it's theirs, it's their franchise. Want to do something else, fine, say "we think TB is stupid, we're not doing it." Bethesda's outright falsehoods of "limits of technology" and "what technology allows now" are directly contradicted by the original developers and thus pretty dishonest.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
My main beef with the TB camp is that they often make it sound like FO combat is some shining pinnacle of gameplay glory. It isn't: it's dull, tedious, unimaginative, and repetitive, and has less tactical challenge than Tic-Tac-Toe. Its only saving grace is the funny death animations. I almost stopped playing FO2 the first time around because the dungeon crawls are such unmitigated tedium; in fact that's what's stopping me from re-playing it now.
Wouldn't it be great if someone picked up where Fallout dropped the ball and gave it a great, advanced combat system? I don't see how the solution to "this has a bad TB system" (and it does, I agree) isn't pretty obviously "so make a good TB system" instead of "let's make it RTwP!"

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Exactly. There's no reason at all why all Fallout games should fit a single mold, when you can easily produce them in a rich rainbow of diverse game-types.
If you call it Fallout, it'd better be Fallout. It makes no sense to call it Fallout and then make it something else. Hell, if we're okay with even a classic example of an alternative mould being brought into the vast mainstream of FP/over-the-shoulder RT/RTwP cRPGs, then we're de facto allowing all cRPGs to fall into that mould, effectively flagging the death of any alternative.

In essence, arguing that Fallout should change to fit the standard mould of cRPGs now is killing what made it unique mechanics-wise, and that's limiting the diversity in cRPGs. A step back, not a step forward, that is.
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August 7th, 2007, 18:08
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
It doesn't matter if it's good, it's theirs, it's their franchise. Want to do something else, fine, say "we think TB is stupid, we're not doing it." Bethesda's outright falsehoods of "limits of technology" and "what technology allows now" are directly contradicted by the original developers and thus pretty dishonest.
Are you seriously claiming that the state of the tech in 1995 had nothing to do with the design decisions that went into FO? It was not possible to make a truly immersive real-time combat RPG with what was available then. (We know this because the real-time combat RPG's from that time suck even harder than than the combat in FO.) Stating that is not "dishonest;" it's stating a simple fact, whatever the designers of FO have to say about it.

Wouldn't it be great if someone picked up where Fallout dropped the ball and gave it a great, advanced combat system? I don't see how the solution to "this has a bad TB system" (and it does, I agree) isn't pretty obviously "so make a good TB system" instead of "let's make it RTwP!"
Oh, there's no doubt that it would be possible to make a good, genuinely tactical TB combat system and plop into into a game in the Fallout franchise. I'm all for one. To do that, though, you'd have to change and add a quite a lot of stuff, from the mechanics to the way the AI works the system.

Thing is, how would that type of redesign be any "truer" to the original than a first-person RTwP based on S.P.E.C.I.A.L. mechanics? In either case, you're redesigning a broken bit; you're just changing different parts of it.

If you call it Fallout, it'd better be Fallout. It makes no sense to call it Fallout and then make it something else.
Look at Star Wars. The franchise includes everything from movies to TV to novels to comics to flight sims to RTS to MMORPG to FPS to RPG to freakin' Legos — and the installments that are truest to the originals aren't the ones that stuck most closely to the original medium. (The Ewok Adventure, anyone?)


Hell, if we're okay with even a classic example of an alternative mould being brought into the vast mainstream of FP/over-the-shoulder RT/RTwP cRPGs, then we're de facto allowing all cRPGs to fall into that mould, effectively flagging the death of any alternative.

In essence, arguing that Fallout should change to fit the standard mould of cRPGs now is killing what made it unique mechanics-wise, and that's limiting the diversity in cRPGs. A step back, not a step forward, that is.
First off, back in 1995 FO wasn't an "alternative mold". Top-down isometric sprite-based stuff *was* the standard mold.

Second, there are a bunch of other (indy) cRPG's in existence and in development that are TB/tactical. Why should Fallout be yet another one?

Finally, I'm not arguing that FO *should* change to fit the mold of cRPG's now — but I am arguing that a cRPG in the mold of cRPG's now *can* be true to the FO franchise. That's different.
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August 7th, 2007, 19:26
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Are you seriously claiming that the state of the tech in 1995 had nothing to do with the design decisions that went into FO? It was not possible to make a truly immersive real-time combat RPG with what was available then. (We know this because the real-time combat RPG's from that time suck even harder than than the combat in FO.) Stating that is not "dishonest;" it's stating a simple fact, whatever the designers of FO have to say about it.
Diablo had bad combat? I thought contemporaries like Diablo and some games built from the contemporary Infinite Engine were marketed purely on combat?

Sure, things were different, but like Tim Cain said, everyone was starting to do real-time and pause-based. Fallout wanted to do something different, as project GURPS. That is the primary motivation. If the secondary motivation is technology, fine, but considering you're talking about the days of Diablo, Ultima Online and TES II: Daggerfall, I'm not going to be convinced by "real-time combat wasn't hip then!" Yes it was.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Thing is, how would that type of redesign be any "truer" to the original than a first-person RTwP based on S.P.E.C.I.A.L. mechanics? In either case, you're redesigning a broken bit; you're just changing different parts of it.
Not really. In one case you're fixing the car's engine, TB combat, in another case you're taking it out and replacing it with another, RTwP. You can't equate an upgrade of TB to replacing TB with RTwP like that, it's impossible.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Look at Star Wars. The franchise includes everything from movies to TV to novels to comics to flight sims to RTS to MMORPG to FPS to RPG to freakin' Legos — and the installments that are truest to the originals aren't the ones that stuck most closely to the original medium.
Cross-medium translations are a different matter, but you choose a bad example, because there has been no numbered Star Wars movie that took something from the original's design philosophy and turned it upside down just for the sake of it. They went from old to new special effects, the mental equivalent of replacing Fallout's 2D with 3D, but they didn't make the wookies look "more cool," like Bethesda did with the supermutants, nor did they replace light-saber fights with slo-mo Matrix kung fu fights just because it's cool, like Fallout 3 is doing to the original design of 1 and 2.

So bad example.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
First off, back in 1995 FO wasn't an "alternative mold". Top-down isometric sprite-based stuff *was* the standard mold.
It'd be an alternative mould now. In any case, I specifically quoted Tim Cain saying they did combat that was different. I hadn't mentioned their dimetric 2D style outside of modern context yet. So "stop putting words in my mouth" or whatever I'm supposed to say here.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Second, there are a bunch of other (indy) cRPG's in existence and in development that are TB/tactical. Why should Fallout be yet another one?
By definition, indie cRPGs can not do the same as mainstream cRPGs. I know it's a horrible truth, but it has to do with the simple fact that you still need a competent, talented team for great dialogue and good gameplay.

Saying that somehow indie cRPG developers still working outside of the standard box excuses all of the industry of making every game in the exact same mould is kind of missing the point, though.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Finally, I'm not arguing that FO *should* change to fit the mold of cRPG's now — but I am arguing that a cRPG in the mold of cRPG's now *can* be true to the FO franchise. That's different.
Why should it? Give me a good reason Fallout should change like that.

And anyway, that's your opinion. Maybe it's my opinion too, for that matter. But that's just a matter of opinion, the original devs thought differently. And who knows Fallout best? I don't know it better than Leonard, 's for sure. Apparently Todd does, since he claims their game is completely true to the originals despite this contradicting several design statements made by the original devs.

Hey, personal opinion be what it may, but it's just personal opinion.
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