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Fallout, from a Game Designer's Perspective

fallout debate game-design fan analysis

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#1
Shadyfan4500

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Let me preface this by saying that I love analyzing the Fallout games, especially the ones I love the most, Fallout and Fallout: New Vegas. I also really enjoy looking at what BGS did poorly with Fallout 3 and 4.

 

I'd be somewhat partial to starting up a short, debate-chain here, where someone brings up a topic and I argue the points for or against it, either as a fan or as a want-to-be game designer. For instance:

 

Spoiler

 

For the purposes of this thread, I could argue both points if someone brings up a topic/issue, either as a fan or "game designer," or someone could bring up a topic/issue and argue one side, to which I would then agree or disagree and state my points from my perspective. I've seen an extensive amount of content critiquing the Fallout games and analyzing them, but I'm certain there are still a million things untouched by all of those videos and reviews. The goal is to bring them up here, and shine light on new topics.



#2
JimboUK

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The plus of not being able to go everywhere from the off is that later when you can you get a sense of progression, I think what they did early game was to focus on building the narrative and introducing the player to the various factions, the NCR at Primm, the Legion at Nipton and the Khans at Boulder. Was it the right decision? that's a matter of opinion, I think it solved one of the problems with open worlds, that of the player wandering off before the story has got going, but it did hurt the replay value slightly as every new game started off much the same, although there are plenty of choices in that time. The main quest sends you to most places anyway, you do have to go to Cottonwood Cove to get the Fort and the bunker under it, it also sends the player to Red Rock and Hidden Valley, and once there they'll find additional things to do.

 

New Vegas isn't for everyone, it's slower than 3 and 4 and if you charge around shooting everything that moves you're going to find yourself locked out of large parts of the game. 



#3
TheMastersSon

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New Vegas isn't for everyone

That's for sure. For years the title has held top place in my list of worst video games ever made. IMO it's the most perfect example of what happens when a game is designed by corporate committee instead of by a (or anyone's) specific vision. The result is miles tall and wide but a quarter-inch deep, a completely disjointed mess that precludes even the possibility of emotional investment in any characters or settings. Also it remains the only video game I've ever played where I didn't realize the grand finale had even occurred.

#4
Mudran

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Let me preface this by saying that I love analyzing the Fallout games, especially the ones I love the most, Fallout and Fallout: New Vegas. I also really enjoy looking at what BGS did poorly with Fallout 3 and 4.

 

I'd be somewhat partial to starting up a short, debate-chain here, where someone brings up a topic and I argue the points for or against it, either as a fan or as a want-to-be game designer. For instance:

 

Spoiler

 

For the purposes of this thread, I could argue both points if someone brings up a topic/issue, either as a fan or "game designer," or someone could bring up a topic/issue and argue one side, to which I would then agree or disagree and state my points from my perspective. I've seen an extensive amount of content critiquing the Fallout games and analyzing them, but I'm certain there are still a million things untouched by all of those videos and reviews. The goal is to bring them up here, and shine light on new topics.

 

Look at that from the other side too - when you leave vault in Fallout 4, you can go everywhere, but is it enough itself? There is no danger, no background info, so the game can feel bland a bit, only at some spots without any background reason is a spawn point of dangerous mobs and there are places overun with mobs where you cannot do anyhting else, any other gameplay, but shoot all of it over and over. In Skyrim when you left that cave you had dragons behind you, you had some mission, but in Fallout 4 everything felt so safe or just annoying. And that doesn't have gameplay variability - like a problem and how to solve it kind of choices. 

But to make variability I think you have to make some walls - and dangerour areas can be such psychological wall.

Also in FNV when you feel danger, you can also feel immersion. It doesn't encourage exploration, but the game wasn't really exploration kind of game - it was more about choices and multiple playthrough. So there is no reason to go to dangerous areas, because in reality you wouldn't go there too, but it is there ready for choices made and then you can go there - it feels similar to Morrowind.

And I know a player who went north from Goodspring and he had a good fun trying to sneak past dangerous territory, just to get right to the city and it was great that it was possible. I don't know if you could do quests there, but he got his the best guns there and returned to Goodspring. 

 

So yes, it was a bit linear, but because there was logic behind it, it can add something to the gameplay, while some open world (the latest Bethesda openworld) can feel bland sometimes, without point and reason to go anywhere, because the world doeesn't have inner logic. 

 

And because FNV wasn't really open world, it was more like story road to New Vegas with a few stop in between, so it is hard to criticize the game for something which is the main layout, but it felt for me like they got the maximum out of it. And in that linear way with choices it was more similar to the old Fallout games. 

 

But I know players who had fun with FNV who arn't RPG players, who don't care about choices and who like to shoot mobs over and over, so I don't know what they liked about FNV.

 

And I don't even know if it would be possible if this would be part of Bethesda open world, but for sure players would like to have somehting similar to it - like Morrowind. 



#5
Shadyfan4500

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The plus of not being able to go everywhere from the off is that later when you can you get a sense of progression, I think what they did early game was to focus on building the narrative and introducing the player to the various factions, the NCR at Primm, the Legion at Nipton and the Khans at Boulder. Was it the right decision? that's a matter of opinion, I think it solved one of the problems with open worlds, that of the player wandering off before the story has got going, but it did hurt the replay value slightly as every new game started off much the same, although there are plenty of choices in that time. The main quest sends you to most places anyway, you do have to go to Cottonwood Cove to get the Fort and the bunker under it, it also sends the player to Red Rock and Hidden Valley, and once there they'll find additional things to do.

 

New Vegas isn't for everyone, it's slower than 3 and 4 and if you charge around shooting everything that moves you're going to find yourself locked out of large parts of the game. 

Yeah, I think it was a good decision, but they could've added quests later on that sent you back. It'd be bad for the players who don't fast travel, but all of these issues could've been solved with more development time. Good point with the Red Rock and Hidden Valley stuff. There has to be some kind of limit, or else you'll get a Fallout 3, where the World Design on a whole makes no sense whatsoever, and none of the overworld enemies are particularly challenging past a certain point (which is too early).

 

 

 

New Vegas isn't for everyone

That's for sure. For years the title has held top place in my list of worst video games ever made. IMO it's the most perfect example of what happens when a game is designed by corporate committee instead of by a (or anyone's) specific vision. The result is miles tall and wide but a quarter-inch deep, a completely disjointed mess that precludes even the possibility of emotional investment in any characters or settings. Also it remains the only video game I've ever played where I didn't realize the grand finale had even occurred.

 

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, for sure. From one of the first times I ever played it, I knew I loved the game. At the time, I still liked Fallout 3 more, but as I played it more and more I grew tired of it, and matured, and finally saw reason behind what the designers of New Vegas did. After that, I enjoyed it a lot more, and Fallout 4 kinda sealed the deal for me, putting New Vegas at #2 best Fallout in my opinion, #1 being Fallout 1. I wouldn't describe Obsidian Entertainment, or their Game Design team at least, as a corporate committee. As I understand it, the company is actually very free-form, and they don't have big corporate backing--one of the reasons they're struggling currently. The very phrase you used to describe New Vegas is how I would describe Skyrim. There are some characters in New Vegas I really enjoy, both as a fan and as an aspiring game developer. House and Caesar come to mind as some of the best characters. I love the NCR and what it stands for, but personally I feel like someone like House should be the rightful ruler of the land. House has a dream, and goals and a plan, and while he comes off as rude many times, he has character. Caesar isn't some mindless brute, like he would've been had the game been written by Emil Pagliarulo. Caesar is one of the most intelligent people in the Mojave, and he has amazing reasons to want to see the NCR destroyed. His greatest flaw is following in the footsteps of the Empire that fractured after it got too big, and their failings could be seen in infancy in Caesar's Legion. Both the NCR and the Legion are stretched too thin, and neither are right to hold the region. When I think of New Vegas, a ton of memorable characters come to mind: House, Caesar, Veronica, Boone, The King + Rex, Julie Farkas, I remember all of their names and more. That's probably bias though, since I've played all of those quests at least 8 times. It seems hard for me to fathom how anyone could miss the grand finale of New Vegas unless they weren't paying attention at all during the game. From the very beginning you're aware of Hoover Dam, and the NCR nor the Legion ever shut up about it, and House and Yes Man talk about it constantly until the end, and then once you get to the battle the game gives you a prompt and asks if you're ready, and then you fight in the battle, and you kill Oliver or Lanius and then the Fallout 1 and 2 style outro plays. 



#6
JimboUK

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Yeah, I think it was a good decision, but they could've added quests later on that sent you back. It'd be bad for the players who don't fast travel, but all of these issues could've been solved with more development time. Good point with the Red Rock and Hidden Valley stuff. There has to be some kind of limit, or else you'll get a Fallout 3, where the World Design on a whole makes no sense whatsoever, and none of the overworld enemies are particularly challenging past a certain point (which is too early).

 

 

Yeah the game needed another six months or even a year, doing what they did in eighteen months was quite a feat but we lost so much, I would have loved to have seen the Legion settlements across the river from Cottonwood Cove, they would have really improved a Legion playthrough. One thing that did really annoy me was the invisible walls everywhere, a early mod removed them but they shouldn't have been there in the first place, that was being too controlling. 

 

I had a real problem with Fallout 3's world, it made no sense and felt like a theme park, Megaton (Poor Town), Tenpenny Tower (Rich town), Old Olney (Deathclaw Town), Big Town (Teen Town), Little Lamplight (Kid Town), Paradise Falls (Bad Guy Town), Grayditch (Ant Town), everywhere had a theme, the only place that didn't and felt real was Rivet City. All this was made worse by some of the most atrocious writing I've ever encountered in a video game, nearly every NPC is a one dimensional trope and the gameworld is full of kooks and weirdos. The game is still fun if you mod the living hell out of it but when it was first released I shut it down when I got to Megaton, the tutorial alone had me facepalming so hard I was worried I'd up with a concussion.



#7
Shadyfan4500

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I had a real problem with Fallout 3's world, it made no sense and felt like a theme park, Megaton (Poor Town), Tenpenny Tower (Rich town), Old Olney (Deathclaw Town), Big Town (Teen Town), Little Lamplight (Kid Town), Paradise Falls (Bad Guy Town), Grayditch (Ant Town), everywhere had a theme, the only place that didn't and felt real was Rivet City. All this was made worse by some of the most atrocious writing I've ever encountered in a video game, nearly every NPC is a one dimensional trope and the gameworld is full of kooks and weirdos. The game is still fun if you mod the living hell out of it but when it was first released I shut it down when I got to Megaton, the tutorial alone had me facepalming so hard I was worried I'd up with a concussion.

 

 

 

The introduction to Fallout 3 is way too linear for an RPG game. There are many problems with it. 1. It establishes the true main character of the game: Dad/James, 2. It gives your character a predetermined backstory, one that changes only slightly as you progress through the game (to Megaton, Colin Moriarity specifically), 3. There's no choice whatsoever besides the dialogue, and the dialogue in the first 10-15 minutes of the game is horrible. I avoid talking to the Overseer completely during the 10th birthday seen, because every choice results in him scolding me. Every dialogue option is either <Typical Good Guy Answer> <Typical Bad Guy Answer> or <I Want Caps>, and there's no nuance. It's such a regression from the opening of Fallout 1 and especially Fallout 2.

 

I just wish I could've seen this a lot sooner. For me, any media I played as a child, or once saw as good, is often hard to critique. There could be legitimate flaws in it and I would never notice it. I never really gave Fallout 3 much critiquing until Fallout 4 was about to drop, and I critiqued BGS heavily weeks after Fallout 4 when it slowly dawned on me that Fallout 4 was not good. I wish I could say that it was because I went back and played Fallout 1 and 2 and realized Fallout 4 is not an RPG at all, but it was mostly because I was mad at the game because it "wasn't fair" or something. I was a child for a long time, lol. I determined the game as bad for my own reasons, and then clung on to other critiques that came out shortly after. Since then I've begun to analyze the games properly, both from the arm chair and from playing it first hand once again.


Edited by Shadyfan4500, 08 May 2018 - 12:06 AM.


#8
JimboUK

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I couldn't get into Fallout 4 at all, the lack of choices, dialogue options and the voiced protagonist ruined it and I agree that it's not an RPG. It went wrong from the off for me, if you chose a female character during chargen you have to put up with the creepy guy behind you, his dialogue is terrible and he comes across as someone you would get restraining order against, you then get to look at this poorly defined blob that supposed to be a baby, after which the bombs drop. When the game started I was stuck with a player character that cared deeply about things that I'd been given no reason whatsoever to care about, this was made worse by having no option to express that, the character wasn't mine, it was Bethesda's and I was stuck with her. I did like Nick Valentine, he was different and had some personality, sadly the rest of the characters were Bethesda's usual cardboard cutouts. 

 

I really wish Bethesda would hire some decent writers, so many of the issues in their games could be solved by descent writing.



#9
Shadyfan4500

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I really wish Bethesda would hire some decent writers, so many of the issues in their games could be solved by descent writing.

I 100% agree. BGS has some of the best world builders in the industry, but the Design and Writing team lets down everyone. Fallout 3 has some excellent locations, with unique situational storytelling, which is some of the most memorable parts of the game for me. There's a location, probably the Red Rocket factory, where there are teddy bears on a conveyor belt blowing each other, while one holds a bottle of whisky. That's Fallout. The problem is when you look at all of these locations relative to each other. Old Olney right next to the Republic of Dave? why is Tenpenny Tower so far away if it has low level friendly citizens in it?

 

Another thing that bothers me: You got out of the vault, you go straight to the Super Duper Mart, and there's the Talon Company Mercs waiting for you. They've not even heard of you yet but they just ambushed you. It seems like a shitty solution to "How do we make the karma system more balanced?" Yet you go to Tenpenny, who hired them, and you can speak to him, and nothing happens. He never fires at you or anything.



#10
Gwork

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Some Fallout parts might be not well written, the graphic is wonky, some details are missing etc. etc. I see replies about unhappy fans, so many times. Okay i can understand each one of them. I get it my point is, i play Fallout cause it´s not perfect. All the glitches, the bugs simply crack me up. I enjoy this way too much. A perfect game don´t exist. 


Edited by Gwork, 15 June 2018 - 08:01 AM.






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