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Default Why the Fallout 3 = Oblivion comparision is both unfair and blind

September 1st, 2008, 09:27
This will be a rant. I will play the devils advocate for a moment and I will even be so blasphemous that I dare to openly criticize a developer to which I confess I am a complete fanboy.

I cannot subscribe to comparing Fallout 3 to Morrowind/Oblivion and frankly I consider that comparison blind, unfair and maybe even biting the hand that feeds you. Let me play the devils advocate and change perspective for once.

First up, Fallout 3 and Oblivion will have essentially the same amount of similarities that Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire had, or why not Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale? Reusing the same engine is only natural and if there are any rule about developing a game, it's that the second game using the same engine will ultimately be better than the first one. In the end, the game is in the game, not in it's engine!

Now. A Role-playing game to me have nothing to do about the interface. That's a point in which I know many will disagree, but it wont give you the rights to claim that real cRPG's cannot be played in First-Person. First-person feels absolutely right for me for a roleplaying game, a perspective I have had since Ultima on C64. The first era of RPG's were almost ALWAYS in first-person, from Wizardry, to Dungeon Master, To Might and Magic to Eye of the Beholder. It feels right because it means you are your character and you see the world through your characters eyes. Play a game like Deus Ex and System Shock 2 and tell me that first-person isn't natural for a roleplaying game. First-person is simply great if you wish to build immersion, just watch this trailer about Far Cry 2 and you will see what I talk about.

I also am not bothered by an FPS mode. I loved Deus Ex and System Shock 2, and I loved Vampire: Bloodlines which is highly regarded by most cRPG fans that I have encountered. I also loved S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and BioShock. I haven't seen that many complain about Mass Effect that can be played just like a shooter if you want to.

I had enough about turn-based in Pools of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor. A pause-function to execute commands is ok, but suffering through a whole battle turn-based is just one thing that I wish to leave in the past. I didn't see anyone complain about the lack of turnbased in Mask of the Betrayer or Planescape Torment.


Now let me allow myself to be critical against Bioware/Obsidian (who to me are the spiritual remains of Black Isle, unless you count Troika who now are dead) and explain what Bethesda do right!.

First; what does Fallout have IN COMMON with Oblivion and Morrowind? They are free-roaming, open-ended and non-linear. I have always preferred that style of roleplaying games (Gothic, Arcanum etc) and I even enjoyed First-Person Shooters that offers that sense of freedom, such as Far Cry and Crysis. Now if we would have a new Fallout from Obsidian or Bioware today, it would have been strictly scripted and static, with a great story but with severely dumbed down mechanics.

Second; Fallout 3 will be the first roleplaying game in ages with multiple social skills. Suck on that for awhile… The original Fallout came out in the 90'ies… but how many sucessful roleplaying games during the recent years can you mention that have multiple non-combat skills? Mass Effect had two, and they had essentially the same usage, simply aligned to the path you took through the game. You were usually offered to use both skills in the same situations and the outcome were almost always the same. Neverwinter Nights 2 had a wider range of possibilities for your characters, but how successful was the game among fans of cRPG's? Many still consider it a "terrible game".

If Bethesda manages to convince mainstream that social skills are fun, then maybe a new era in roleplaying games can be born. This might, however be the last chance ever that a "social" RPG's is made by a large developer. If reviewers complains over the social skills, then it's game over for the whole genré. No large developer will ever give them a chance again.

Finally; Fallout 3 seems to contain real moral choices. Bioware/Obsidian have now boiled themselves down to "Good/Evil", an option that I find completely uninteresting and usually boils down to "forgive everything that threatens you" to "burn everybody who supports you[/b]. Real moral choices have no obvious "right" answer. In fact, the old perspective "chaotic/lawful" was more interesting than good/evil. I do not even believe in good/evil anymore.


So there you go. To summarize, the complaints against Fallout 3 is counter-productive and most of them hypocritical considering that pretty much everything people complains about have already been successfully tried by other developers and then met with praise. Fallout 3 actually reintroduces several aspects which most RPG developers wouldn't even consider today. A rather daring move in a changed market.
Last edited by JemyM; September 1st, 2008 at 09:51.
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September 1st, 2008, 09:40
Fallout 3 !=Oblivion
Fallout 3 = Oblivion with Guns

Modern Games with social stats ? NWN 2 and Drakensang.

We don't need a Bethesda-Fallout.

If there are any interesting moral choices in Fallout 3 is yet to be seen. Right now we have the PR-Talk of the Developers who gave us "Radiant AI"…

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September 1st, 2008, 10:20
I agree that it doesn't have to end up being Oblivion with guns. Far from it - seems to me the writing, choices, consequences of your actions etc etc is all very different in Fallout 3 compared to Oblivion. I'll do what I usually do - wait and see, and then make up my mind about it.

Truth be told, Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate is a fairly bad comparison - IWD was made by Black Isle, BG was made by BioWare. Same engine, yes, but not same developers. The others are perfectly valid, and it is certainly easy to see the similarities between Jade Empire, KotOR and Mass Effect. They share a fairly similar recipe, although with certain differences (obviously).
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September 1st, 2008, 11:17
No offence, JemyM, but I don't really see too much of an argument in the first half of your post. BG and IWD are very similar in a lot of ways. If someone hated BG, I'd be very careful recommending IWD to them. I also get that you like the first-person-free-roaming style…but I don't really see how that is a logical argument for your position that FO3 isn't OB+guns. Nor do I see how your assertion that a BIS or Troika version would be dumbed down is at all supported…what did you base that on?

When I watch the FO3 videos, I get an overwhelming sense of OB with guns (and the latest one with the mudcrabs crab mutants made me groan). Is it a fair comparison? I don't know - I haven't played it. But from the video footage, that's what it looks like to me.

The addition of social skills and multiple paths in FO3 is very welcome. The reason for the cynicism is Bethesda haven't embraced this before (arguably exluding Daggerfall), so what (recent) history do we have to go on? I'm open to the possibility they'll do a good job but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, other games have social skills, such as Vampire: Bloodlines and Mask of the Betrayer.

I hear Bethsoft talking about all these possibilities but when I watch the videos, I find it a bit underwhelming. Take Megaton and Mr Burke, for example. The character walks into a bar and the first sentence with this guy has him talking about blowing the town up. Does that make sense? I realise many/most RPGs get this sort of subtlety wrong but it's the sort of writing Interplay got right and I haven't seen signs that Bethsoft can match it.

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September 1st, 2008, 11:40
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Reusing the same engine is only natural and if there are any rule about developing a game, it's that the second game using the same engine will ultimately be better than the first one. In the end, the game is in the game, not in it's engine!
The second iteration of the engine will certainly be more refined, but as you said, the game is in the game, not the engine…

Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Now. A Role-playing game to me have nothing to do about the interface. That's a point in which I know many will disagree, but it wont give you the rights to claim that real cRPG's cannot be played in First-Person. First-person feels absolutely right for me for a roleplaying game
Yes, yes you like the FP perspective, but I didn't see Fallout 1 or 2 in that list. It was made with an almost-isometric viewpoint for a reason. In fact, just about everything in the game was designed with a pen and paper simulation goal in mind. A first person perspective is not inducive for the experience Fallout was meant to be.

Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
I also am not bothered by an FPS mode. I loved Deus Ex and System Shock 2, and I loved Vampire: Bloodlines which is highly regarded by most cRPG fans that I have encountered. I also loved S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and BioShock. I haven't seen that many complain about Mass Effect that can be played just like a shooter if you want to.
Fallout went against the stream back in 1997 by being isometric and turn based when first person 3D graphics in real time were already all the rage. But they wanted different gameplay and a different experience.

Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
I didn't see anyone complain about the lack of turnbased in Mask of the Betrayer or Planescape Torment.
You needn't look far. 'course, most everyone is so resigned about the fact that everyone makes real-time games these days that the combat complaints mostly just focus on the D&D epic levels when it comes to MotB.

Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
First; what does Fallout have IN COMMON with Oblivion and Morrowind? They are free-roaming, open-ended and non-linear.
Could you please define "open-ended" and "non-linear" for me? Morrowind and Oblivion both have only one "ending", so what is "open" about them? Both M and O consist of a set of linear quest lines (that are often as short as one quest), so what is "non-linear" about them?

Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Now if we would have a new Fallout from Obsidian or Bioware today, it would have been strictly scripted and static, with a great story but with severely dumbed down mechanics.
And that would somehow be in contrast to Bethesda?

Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Second; Fallout 3 will be the first roleplaying game in ages with multiple social skills.
MotB came out less than a year ago, and SoZ isn't far away.

Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Finally; Fallout 3 seems to contain real moral choices.
Real moral choices such as "Blow up Megaton? Yes/No"?

Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Fallout 3 actually reintroduces several aspects which most RPG developers wouldn't even consider today.
Such as?

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September 1st, 2008, 11:51
Were it not for your extensive posting history, I would disregard your "rant" as little more than the purposely inciting declaration of a troll. As it is, I am forced to consider whether you deliberately arranged this, merely in order to be given the opportunity to defend a company of which you are a self-proclaimed fan.
Having said as much, here's you first chance…

I cannot subscribe to comparing Fallout 3 to Morrowind/Oblivion and frankly I consider that comparison blind, unfair and maybe even biting the hand that feeds you.
I can understand and even appreciate your position, however, your last analogy strikes me as a little far-fetched. Would you mind elaborating on just how a comparison of Fallout 3 and Oblivion is akin to "biting the hand that feeds you"?

First up, Fallout 3 and Oblivion will have essentially the same amount of similarities that Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire had, or why not Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale? Reusing the same engine is only natural and if there are any rule about developing a game, it's that the second game using the same engine will ultimately be better than the first one.
First, the similarities of gameplay and basic mechanics betwixt the games you chose as your comparative base are both numerous and rather obvious. Furthermore, your second point is little more than opinion and, most likely, an entirely fallacious one. The second game is inherently better than the first? Since when? In regards to the technology? Of course. As common sense dictates, things only improve as time goes by. Stylistically or in regards to gameplay? No guarantee exists.

In the end, the game is in the game, not in it's engine!
I can agree with that, should you concede to a single addendum: the engine plays a pivotal and dramatic role in determining just what manner of "game" can be developed.
To whit: attempt to create a physics-based game in an engine with no physics support, a first-person shooter that can be scrutinized according to modern standards with a seven-year old engine, a "graphically immersive" title in an engine that has a low onscreen poly-count cap.

Now. A Role-playing game to me have nothing to do about the interface. That's a point in which I know many will disagree, but it wont give you the rights to claim that real cRPG's cannot be played in First-Person.
Personally, I have no problem with the first-person perspective Bethesda is utilizing. Having said as much, presentation cannot be stressed enough. For some people, it's a deal breaker. Poor analogy though it may be, if you serve a steak on a sheet of cardboard, it's nowhere near as appealing as when served on a china plate.

It feels right because it means you are your character and you see the world through your characters eyes. Play a game like Deus Ex and System Shock 2 and tell me that first-person isn't natural for a roleplaying game. First-person is simply great if you wish to build immersion
Once more, you are arguing from a point of opinion, nothing more. You prefer first-person games, that much is clear, but it hardly means the perspective is "natural" or best. It means you like it.
As I've already stated, I take no issue with the choice to make F3 first-person. I, however, prefer third-person in games. Why? Well, I could justify it by saying that said view allows you to observe the entire character at once, to empathize with what happens to them and enjoy their full physical interaction with the environment, hence enhancing your immersion. To put it pointedly, though, that's complete crap. I like it better, end of story.
As for "immersion," well, I won't bother delving too deeply into that one. To put it simply, perspective in a game has nothing to do with immersion. True, it can heighten or detract from such, but the principle means of immersing oneself in the game is found within the storyline. The most simple means of verifying that is by reading a book. Where's the perspective? The interaction? They don't exist, yet I defy you to resist becoming immersed in a good novel.

I haven't seen that many complain about Mass Effect that can be played just like a shooter if you want to.
Chalk up one more to your list of "people who complain about Mass Effect," won't you? In fact, add me to the list of people who flat out despised it.

First; what does Fallout have IN COMMON with Oblivion and Morrowind? They are free-roaming, open-ended and non-linear. I have always preferred that style of roleplaying games (Gothic, Arcanum etc) and I even enjoyed First-Person Shooters that offers that sense of freedom, such as Far Cry and Crysis.
Fair enough, you have a valid point. What's more, we share some common tastes.
Still, you are assuming that the present development team at Bethesda Softworks has shown themselves competent of producing quality "free-roaming, open-ended and non-linear" games. Let's take these one by one (using Oblivion as an example), shall we?
Free-roaming: You could walk about the countryside without restriction and most areas were initially available. Check!
Open-ended: I'm drawing a blank here…
Non-linear: This one depends on how you define the concept of "non-linearity." Does it mean the ability to approach events in your choice of order? Or is it the option to resolve an event is a number of unique manners? Personally, I choose the latter, hence a game such as Oblivion is not non-linear, whilst The Witcher is.
One out of the two I covered is not an encouraging result. In a scholastic setting, fifty-percent is equivalent to failure.

Now if we would have a new Fallout from Obsidian or Bioware today, it would have been strictly scripted and static, with a great story but with severely dumbed down mechanics.
And you know this how?
That's pure and idle speculation, nothing more. You were better off arguing with opinions.

If reviewers complains over the social skills, then it's game over for the whole genré. No large developer will ever give them a chance again.
Even worse speculation than before, mate.

Finally; Fallout 3 seems to contain real moral choices.
When and where? I must have missed them in the midst of the "you can launch NUKES!" previews.

Real moral choices have no obvious "right" answer. In fact, the old perspective "chaotic/lawful" was more interesting than good/evil. I do not even believe in good/evil anymore.
Really? No…really?
Child molestation. Rape. Genocide.
Yep, not one of the above qualifies as evil, right?

So there you go. To summarize, the complaints against Fallout 3 is counter-productive and most of them hypocritical considering that pretty much everything people complains about have already been successfully tried by other developers and then met with praise.
Success in the past does not lend an assurance of future success, notably when you are referring to distinct parties.
To summarize, you failed to address in any manner how a comparison between Fallout 3 and Oblivion is "unfair" or "blind" in a cogent fashion. I'll do it for you, in a swift and easily perusable fashion: bullets.

THINGS THEY HAVE IN COMMON
* First-person perspective
* Action-oriented gameplay, notably the shooting elements (archery in Oblivion was a FPS)
* Utilization of the Gamebryo engine
* Todd Howard and numerous members of the same development team
* Same PR-team, same hype process
* "hilariously, embarrassingly wooden animation" (Eurogamer)
* "the map being the same" (2OpGaming)
* Terrible, console-friendly interface (my opinion and that of other sane individuals)
* "random [attacks] by savage rats" (2OpGaming; arbitrary, but come on…)
Finally: "I don’t discount that folks are going to call it that […]" copied verbatim from Pete Hines himself. When even the PR guys have to acknowledge that the similarities between the two are apparent enough to draw frequent remarks, it's obvious something is amiss.
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September 1st, 2008, 11:54
Should have typed that reply out faster. A few of my points were touched on before I submitted my initial message. Still, I do hope you reply. I'm quite eager to hear your defense.
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September 1st, 2008, 13:03
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
First up, Fallout 3 and Oblivion will have essentially the same amount of similarities that Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire had, or why not Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale?
I don't think it would be unfair to call Jade Empire "KOTOR with kung-fu," or IWD "Baldur's Gate with… a different set of characters and story." IOW, I'm not sure if these comparisons actually strengthen your point.

Reusing the same engine is only natural and if there are any rule about developing a game, it's that the second game using the same engine will ultimately be better than the first one. In the end, the game is in the game, not in it's engine!
I agree. I've never had a problem with Bethsoft's choice of engine.

Now. A Role-playing game to me have nothing to do about the interface. That's a point in which I know many will disagree, but it wont give you the rights to claim that real cRPG's cannot be played in First-Person.
…rest of argument snipped, because I agree. Except that I like (well-executed) TB combat as well. There's just precious little of it around. I can't think of anything that's managed to surpass NetHack in terms of fluidity of execution.
First; what does Fallout have IN COMMON with Oblivion and Morrowind? They are free-roaming, open-ended and non-linear. I have always preferred that style of roleplaying games (Gothic, Arcanum etc) and I even enjoyed First-Person Shooters that offers that sense of freedom, such as Far Cry and Crysis. Now if we would have a new Fallout from Obsidian or Bioware today, it would have been strictly scripted and static, with a great story but with severely dumbed down mechanics.
Why severely dumbed-down mechanics? Obsidian has produced, thus far, KOTOR 2, NWN 2, and MotB. None of these have mechanics that are dumbed-down in any sense of the word, let alone severely dumbed-down. Of BioWare's recent fare, JE and ME do arguably have dumbed-down mechanics, although JE's aren't quite as dumbed-down as they appear at first glance IMO.

Second; Fallout 3 will be the first roleplaying game in ages with multiple social skills. Suck on that for awhile… The original Fallout came out in the 90'ies… but how many sucessful roleplaying games during the recent years can you mention that have multiple non-combat skills?
NWN 2, MotB, VtM:B.

Mass Effect had two, and they had essentially the same usage, simply aligned to the path you took through the game. You were usually offered to use both skills in the same situations and the outcome were almost always the same. Neverwinter Nights 2 had a wider range of possibilities for your characters, but how successful was the game among fans of cRPG's? Many still consider it a "terrible game".
NWN2 was pretty damn successful among fans of cRPG's, and MotB even more so. I've rarely seen social skills as well used as in MotB — your stats and your conversation skills affect practically every single dialog, and some uses have pretty damn huge effects on the game experience.

If Bethesda manages to convince mainstream that social skills are fun, then maybe a new era in roleplaying games can be born. This might, however be the last chance ever that a "social" RPG's is made by a large developer. If reviewers complains over the social skills, then it's game over for the whole genré. No large developer will ever give them a chance again.
The end of the world is nigh. Film at eleven.

Finally; Fallout 3 seems to contain real moral choices.
Let's hope so. Hell, I pray to the Great Dungeon Master In The Sky every night for it to be so. (Slight hyperbole there, sorry.)

But… from what I've seen so far, I'm rather skeptical about Bethsoft actually being able to pull this off. The examples of moral choices shown so far seem pretty thoroughly in the usual "Be evil (Y/N?)" mold.

Bioware/Obsidian have now boiled themselves down to "Good/Evil", an option that I find completely uninteresting and usually boils down to "forgive everything that threatens you" to "burn everybody who supports you[/b].
One of my pet peeves about cRPG's as well… but but but. MotB again.

That had genuinely complex moral choices to make, with often no unequivocal good or evil choice, and the evil choices were, generally speaking, *motivated.* I played through the evil storyline in it, and while I did any number of thoroughly despicable things in it, I always felt there was a *reason* for doing them. It wasn't just random mayhem, and these choices were beautifully reflected in my companions' attitudes. Gann thoroughly approved of my destroying the Slumbering Coven, One of Many gleefully egged me on to do stuff for him/her/it/them, and so on.

Real moral choices have no obvious "right" answer. In fact, the old perspective "chaotic/lawful" was more interesting than good/evil.
I always thought of that as a bit of a cop-out; ethics for someone who's too chicken to stake out a position and stick to it. Good and evil can be extremely interesting in a cRPG too, especially if they tie in to the metaphysical multiverse around it. What would Planescape: Torment be like if there were no hells and no heavens; if Morte had no sins to expiate; if the Practical Incarnation's behavior towards Deionarra and Dak'kon were completely morally neutral? Dead boring, is what it would be like.

I do not even believe in good/evil anymore.
It's quite interesting to follow your epiphanies during your quest for personal and/or spiritual self-discovery, but I'm not sure how much bearing they have on how compelling a role-playing game story is, nor how well game mechanics associated with it play.

So there you go. To summarize, the complaints against Fallout 3 is counter-productive and most of them hypocritical considering that pretty much everything people complains about have already been successfully tried by other developers and then met with praise. Fallout 3 actually reintroduces several aspects which most RPG developers wouldn't even consider today. A rather daring move in a changed market.
Let's hope so. As I've said elsewhere, I very much like the design goals Bethsoft have publicly stated they're pursuing for FO3; what I'm much less sure about is whether they can pull it off. Moral complexity involving compelling characters doesn't just happen; it requires some damn good writing and intelligent plotting.
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September 1st, 2008, 13:04
The comparison is both valid as well as potentially misleading. It is valid as it clearly shares the engine, many gameplay elements (free roaming in 3D, minigames, physics, own-a-house) and philosophies (large gameworld, free roaming, real-time combat). It may also be entirely misleading if you consider the essence of Fallout in its setting, choice-and-consequence gameplay, SPECIAL, quest design, etc. - all these could be very different (and hopefully better) from Oblivion if we believe Bethesdas hype. In two months we will know.
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September 1st, 2008, 14:28
Originally Posted by KazikluBey View Post
You needn't look far. 'course, most everyone is so resigned about the fact that everyone makes real-time games these days that the combat complaints mostly just focus on the D&D epic levels when it comes to MotB.
When I rant about the lack of turn-based combat in modern games,

then it is like : "They just don't do it and i can't change it, because no publisher would hier my cries, and most likely no developing company as well".

It's pure resigning.

They just don't do it.

No matter how much I want them to do it.

They just don't do it.

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September 1st, 2008, 15:10
Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
Fallout 3 !=Oblivion
Fallout 3 = Oblivion with Guns
You say "Oblivion with Guns" and expect people to know what the word "Oblivion" means to you.

Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
Modern Games with social stats ? NWN 2 and Drakensang.
I think you have to try more. NWN2 is widely held as inferior to it's predecessors, a disappointment. Drakensang is not even available.
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September 1st, 2008, 15:17
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Truth be told, Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate is a fairly bad comparison - IWD was made by Black Isle, BG was made by BioWare. Same engine, yes, but not same developers. The others are perfectly valid, and it is certainly easy to see the similarities between Jade Empire, KotOR and Mass Effect. They share a fairly similar recipe, although with certain differences (obviously).
Well, the point was that while the games had similar interface/narrative they were still so different from one another that you have to treat them like different games. Stating that "Jade Empire" is "KOTOR with Kung-Fu" would be an unfair and rather bad description. To some, the world is more important than the interface, and I would have to try really hard to draw comparisons between Fallout and Tamriel in that regard.
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September 1st, 2008, 15:29
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I also get that you like the first-person-free-roaming style…but I don't really see how that is a logical argument for your position that FO3 isn't OB+guns.
The first argument is that Fallout is not the perspective. If it was, then Pools of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor would have more in common with Fallout than S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

The second argument is that Fallout is a free-roaming game, and if one develops a free-roaming game today it would be like Oblivion. Or Morrowind, or Gothic, or Far Cry, or even Grand Theft Auto. I cannot be the only one who drew comparisions between Fallout and Gothic because that free-roaming style was what drew me to both.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Nor do I see how your assertion that a BIS or Troika version would be dumbed down is at all supported…what did you base that on?
The recent offerings by Obsidian and Bioware have been dumbed down. NWN2 wasnt, but NWN2 is also mentioned as inferior and MotB (despite how much I loved the game) got rather low score in reviews.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
When I watch the FO3 videos, I get an overwhelming sense of OB with guns (and the latest one with the mudcrabs crab mutants made me groan). Is it a fair comparison? I don't know - I haven't played it. But from the video footage, that's what it looks like to me.
It all depends on what "Oblivion" was to you. To be "Oblivion" was a dumbed down self-playing fantasy RPG. All the aspects that I hated about it seems to be different in F3.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I'm open to the possibility they'll do a good job but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, other games have social skills, such as Vampire: Bloodlines and Mask of the Betrayer.
Are you aware that Vampire: Bloodlines is four years old and lead to Troika's death?

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I hear Bethsoft talking about all these possibilities but when I watch the videos, I find it a bit underwhelming. Take Megaton and Mr Burke, for example. The character walks into a bar and the first sentence with this guy has him talking about blowing the town up. Does that make sense? I realise many/most RPGs get this sort of subtlety wrong but it's the sort of writing Interplay got right and I haven't seen signs that Bethsoft can match it.
I wont say F3 will be the best game ever made and I will not preorder the game. My point is that the complaints I have seen so far is unfair.
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September 1st, 2008, 15:37
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
I think you have to try more. NWN2 is widely held as inferior to it's predecessors, a disappointment. Drakensang is not even available.
Widely held by whom? I can't, off the bat, think of anyone who felt that NWN 2 OC was worse than NWN OC, although there were certainly plenty of complaints about the UI changes. In any case, if your definition of "successful mainstream cRPG" excludes NWN 2, I'm pretty sure you need to adjust your definition.

And Drakensang *is* available, just not in English.
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September 1st, 2008, 15:47
KazikluBey, I skipped a few comments that you hadn't really thought through. MotB is not a "win-all-argument" when I use comments like "most developers wouldnt consider". In fact, the lack of titles you mentioned (or could mention) to support your points kinda proves my point.

Originally Posted by KazikluBey View Post
Yes, yes you like the FP perspective, but I didn't see Fallout 1 or 2 in that list. It was made with an almost-isometric viewpoint for a reason. In fact, just about everything in the game was designed with a pen and paper simulation goal in mind. A first person perspective is not inducive for the experience Fallout was meant to be.
The same argument could be made for FP. I have never roleplayed with the help of figurines so that might be why I do not see isometric as obvious for a RPG.

Originally Posted by KazikluBey View Post
Fallout went against the stream back in 1997 by being isometric and turn based when first person 3D graphics in real time were already all the rage. But they wanted different gameplay and a different experience.
As far as I remember, 3d RPG's were still rare around 1997. Most of the games were developed in isometric and in 2d. This had a lot to do with available technology as well as lack of developers familiar with that technology.

Originally Posted by KazikluBey View Post
Could you please define "open-ended" and "non-linear" for me? Morrowind and Oblivion both have only one "ending", so what is "open" about them? Both M and O consist of a set of linear quest lines (that are often as short as one quest), so what is "non-linear" about them?
Open-ended means that the game doesn't really end with ending the main campaign. Non-linear means that you can do quests and stuff in a mixed order. Games like Jade Empire, Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect follows a strict red line and while you have some options to pick up subquests a long the way, you cannot decide what area to visit first.

Originally Posted by KazikluBey View Post
And that would somehow be in contrast to Bethesda?
By the looks of it, Fallout 3 will actually be more advanced than the recent offerings from the other popular RPG developers.

Originally Posted by KazikluBey View Post
Such as?
Creating your own character. Social skills. Multiple alternatives to beat puzzles etc.
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September 1st, 2008, 16:08
Huh? NWN2 considered inferior to NWN1? I know the tools were a bit too advanced, and therefore the mod makers didn't make as many modules, leading to a smaller community, but I believe the game itself is considered superior to NWN1 in pretty much every way - gameplay (controlling the party, instead of having useless "henchmen"), story (by far), dialogue options/choices/consequences, etc etc.

MotB was the single best D&D experience I've had since Baldur's Gate 2 (not counting Throne of Bhaal - MotB is better than ToB). If MotB was any indication, SoZ will end up being a very good experience, far from dumbed down in any way.
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September 1st, 2008, 16:35
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Huh? NWN2 considered inferior to NWN1? I know the tools were a bit too advanced, and therefore the mod makers didn't make as many modules, leading to a smaller community, but I believe the game itself is considered superior to NWN1 in pretty much every way - gameplay (controlling the party, instead of having useless "henchmen"), story (by far), dialogue options/choices/consequences, etc etc.
Not quite everything, though. Having just played HotU and MotB back to back, I have to say that, all things considered, I prefer the NWN user interface to the NWN2 one. Specifically, the inventory (icons are too small and too hard to distinguish in NWN2), the camera control (still very fussy in NWN2 compared to the simpler, more restricted one in NWN), and the overall UI setup (few generic UI elements in NWN, lots of specific UI elements in NWN2).

MotB was the single best D&D experience I've had since Baldur's Gate 2 (not counting Throne of Bhaal - MotB is better than ToB). If MotB was any indication, SoZ will end up being a very good experience, far from dumbed down in any way.
Hear hear.
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September 1st, 2008, 16:37
themadhatter: I had to cut down the size of your reply a bit, but you had many valid points to which I simply agree. I only replied where I felt I had to clarify or elaborate.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
Would you mind elaborating on just how a comparison of Fallout 3 and Oblivion is akin to "biting the hand that feeds you"?
F3 is a rare exception to the rule that a developer will dumb down their games even more for every game they make. In the case of F3, F3 seems to be less dumbed down than Oblivion. I appreciate the attempt to make an RPG with multiple social skills in 2008. The other developers stopped to make such games ages ago since it's too much work for the money. F3 is ironically going against the flood.

It is definitely dumbed down compared with Fallout. But it's not dumbed down compared to Oblivion, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Two Worlds and Fable.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
The second game is inherently better than the first? Since when? In regards to the technology? Of course. As common sense dictates, things only improve as time goes by. Stylistically or in regards to gameplay? No guarantee exists.
You are right. It's not an ultimate rule, but it's a common occurance that few games manages to both include a great new engine and a great game.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
Fair enough, you have a valid point. What's more, we share some common tastes.
Still, you are assuming that the present development team at Bethesda Softworks has shown themselves competent of producing quality "free-roaming, open-ended and non-linear" games.
No. And I probably should have written something about this in my post. I disliked Oblivion. I was very dissappointed by the game and I was nauseated by the reviews they got. I thought to myself "oh no… now we will have a few years of Oblivion clones that will do the same mistakes", then came Mass Effect, that really made all those mistakes, and they also scored equally awesome reviews.

Then I felt dead as a gamer.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
Non-linear: This one depends on how you define the concept of "non-linearity." Does it mean the ability to approach events in your choice of order? Or is it the option to resolve an event is a number of unique manners? Personally, I choose the latter, hence a game such as Oblivion is not non-linear, whilst The Witcher is.
One out of the two I covered is not an encouraging result. In a scholastic setting, fifty-percent is equivalent to failure.
You could explore the game for yourself, visit new areas and pick and complete quests in the way you wanted to.
The fact that there was only one way to solve quests and that they were usually quite bad is part of the reason why I disliked Oblivion as much as I did.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
And you know this how?
That's pure and idle speculation, nothing more. You were better off arguing with opinions.
I compare with the recent games from Obsidian or Bioware. Obsidian have yet to deliver a sucessful game. There have always been some problems with it. Either it's incomplete (KOTOR2) or it was met with so-so reviews. It seems that you simply cannot make an advanced RPG today and get good reviews.

Jade Empire and Mass Effect have shown what direction Bioware take their games.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
When and where? I must have missed them in the midst of the "you can launch NUKES!" previews.
No. I read one step further. I listened to a few reviews discussing moral choices in general. The "nukes" quest seem to be one out of many.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
Really? No…really?
Child molestation. Rape. Genocide.
Yep, not one of the above qualifies as evil, right?
Simply calling these "evil" is a failure to understand the very human mechanisms behind unwanted behavior.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
* Utilization of the Gamebryo engine
* Todd Howard and numerous members of the same development team
* Same PR-team, same hype process
Finally: "I don’t discount that folks are going to call it that […]" copied verbatim from Pete Hines himself. When even the PR guys have to acknowledge that the similarities between the two are apparent enough to draw frequent remarks, it's obvious something is amiss.
* "the map being the same" (2OpGaming)
[/QUOTE]

These bullets are simply natural considering the two games are developed by the same company.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
* First-person perspective
* Action-oriented gameplay, notably the shooting elements (archery in Oblivion was a FPS)
* Terrible, console-friendly interface (my opinion and that of other sane individuals)
* "random [attacks] by savage rats" (2OpGaming; arbitrary, but come on…)
I do not see any of these bullets unique to Oblivion and Fallout 3. In fact, these items is what I would expect from any developer these days.

Originally Posted by themadhatter View Post
* "hilariously, embarrassingly wooden animation" (Eurogamer)
I didn't get this point.
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September 1st, 2008, 17:18
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Why severely dumbed-down mechanics? Obsidian has produced, thus far, KOTOR 2, NWN 2, and MotB. None of these have mechanics that are dumbed-down in any sense of the word, let alone severely dumbed-down.
I liked all three, but I have to recognize that they were a failure when it comes to reviews. The game mechanics were not as polished as, for example, the original NWN and KOTOR, and reviews tend to go on mechanics more than story.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
NWN 2, MotB, VtM:B
Average reviews on gamerankings.com
Neverwinter Nights 2: 82.1%
Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer: 82.1%
Vampire: Bloodlines: 81% (Which is also a four year old game, after which Troika died)

For emphasis:
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, 93.1%
Knights of the Old Republic: 93%
Final Fantasy XII: 91.1%
Mass Effect: 90.7%
Neverwinter Nights: 88.8%

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
NWN2 was pretty damn successful among fans of cRPG's, and MotB even more so. I've rarely seen social skills as well used as in MotB — your stats and your conversation skills affect practically every single dialog, and some uses have pretty damn huge effects on the game experience.
NWN2 could ride on the popularity of NWN, but I doubt it selled as well. The trouble people had with it was the engine which didn't reach up to it's expectations. I personally loved both.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
One of my pet peeves about cRPG's as well… but but but. MotB again.
That had genuinely complex moral choices to make, with often no unequivocal good or evil choice, and the evil choices were, generally speaking, *motivated.* I played through the evil storyline in it, and while I did any number of thoroughly despicable things in it, I always felt there was a *reason* for doing them. It wasn't just random mayhem, and these choices were beautifully reflected in my companions' attitudes. Gann thoroughly approved of my destroying the Slumbering Coven, One of Many gleefully egged me on to do stuff for him/her/it/them, and so on.
To me, MotB was an awesome game, but let's face it… both MotB and Planescape Torment are the kind of games that are way too advanced for the average consumer. While NWN really was a mainstream game, I doubt MotB nearly as many copies as Hordes of the Underdark. Ironically, MotB was actually scaled down to fit Obsidian's tight schedule. They were almost prepared to cut Kaelyn the Dove from the game due to lack of time to complete the game. Obsidian is an island of reality in an ocean of diarrea, and they produce games for a nische, but they are a small developer compared to behemoths like Bethesda and Mass Effect.

Unfortunally, Obsidians next game will be an action-rpg.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I always thought of that as a bit of a cop-out; ethics for someone who's too chicken to stake out a position and stick to it. Good and evil can be extremely interesting in a cRPG too, especially if they tie in to the metaphysical multiverse around it. What would Planescape: Torment be like if there were no hells and no heavens; if Morte had no sins to expiate; if the Practical Incarnation's behavior towards Deionarra and Dak'kon were completely morally neutral? Dead boring, is what it would be like.
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
It's quite interesting to follow your epiphanies during your quest for personal and/or spiritual self-discovery, but I'm not sure how much bearing they have on how compelling a role-playing game story is, nor how well game mechanics associated with it play.
I do not remember the good/evil aspect of the game. I actually liked it because it had some really strong philosophy beyond good/evil. I liked the question "what can change the nature of a man".

There have been some interesting games that actually used more advanced philosophy than good vs evil. Actually, Final Fantasy X, Mask of the Betrayer and Gothic III questioned the very idea in an almost Nietszche-style critizism against institutions that claim to be the "good" guys. Jade Empire and KOTOR2 also had an excellent take on it, even if Jade Empire eventually boiled down to the old good/evil concept.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Let's hope so. As I've said elsewhere, I very much like the design goals Bethsoft have publicly stated they're pursuing for FO3; what I'm much less sure about is whether they can pull it off. Moral complexity involving compelling characters doesn't just happen; it requires some damn good writing and intelligent plotting.
Well, let's just say that I will read the reviews before I touch Fallout 3 with my bare hands.
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September 1st, 2008, 17:20
In the latest edge magazine they mention that while it maybe oblivion with guns that label is as obfuscatory and useless as arguing that planescape torment was fallout with swords.

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RPGWatch Forums » Games » General RPG » Why the Fallout 3 = Oblivion comparision is both unfair and blind
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