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Project Spotlight: Fallout - The Frontier


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In the last few months, we have spoken to several teams working on huge Fallout mod projects such as Fallout New California or Fallout Miami and it is truly amazing to see the love our modding community continues to pour into the Fallout games. Today, we are having a chat with Tgspy, Odinsword, Nazothedark, and Macintroll from the team from Fallout: The Frontier - a massive, super-sized mod project for Fallout New Vegas that will take you on a new adventure, take you out of the warm and sunny settings you are used to, and plunge you right into the cold, hard reality of nuclear winter in the North American frontier.



BigBizkit: Thanks for joining us today. How would you describe The Frontier, its setting, and story in your own words?


Tgspy (merger and content manager): Describing what has been years of work and thousands of man-hours is difficult, but, in a more joyful and fun way, I’d describe the Frontier as an exploration of just how far we can push New Vegas and its engine. It’s a wintery place filled with dark, gripping stories, fun characters, beautiful landscapes, and much, much more.


Odinsword (side content lead and writer): Two words "Frozen Shitterland", lol. To quote an NPC:


"There is an evil that slithers beneath the frozen grounds. It beckons like a beacon to the black-hearted, to those enslaved by vengeance and vice. I see it pulsing, writhing in the darkness, beyond the mortal veil. Don't stay in the frontier long, friend, else it will ensnare you, too."


Nazothedark (Legion main quest lead and side quest content creator): The Frontier is a story about failure and how good intentions can easily go astray.


Macintroll (level design and art lead): The initial idea for the Frontier included 4 main points:


  1. Create a new and different story for our beloved "courier"
  2. For a change, set this in a cold, snowy and harsh environment, kind of a non-stop nuclear winter.
  3. Set this in a big destroyed city separated by a river
  4. In a place where a conflict between 2 of the major forces we already know is ongoing. (New California Republic & Caesar’s Legion)

So, we decided to create a very different environment for the player. Most of the existing original Fallout games were either taking place in a desert or on the green East Coast (FO3). To make a change and stand out from any other Fallout game or mods, a snowy, cold environment created from the old nuclear blast paired with a new survival experience was the initial goal.


To fit this idea in, we had to find some area where no other Fallout game has been settled before, so we chose the north-west coast, as it's not so far from the Mojave, and near the old North American "frontier" - the idea was decided upon and the name came from it. Soon Portland (OR) appeared to be a well fitting place for our diverse goals.


Fitting the lore and the old Fallout Bible, Portland was a well-fitting place including lore reasons for why the place would be filled with old war technologies, as Portland like in real life is/was a staging place for the US army (notably during Operation: Anchorage). It also features one of the best known, massive Vaults: Vault 6.



The setting for The Frontier is very different than the one for the base game, taking you from a desert wasteland to a snowy region up north. What prompted the decision to move the setting north into a colder climate?


Tgspy: Simply? It’s really cool (pun intended). On a more serious term, it’s a unique change from the quite typical environments that the games are set in, deserts or green pastures. We picked a snowy environment quite early on in development of the mod as we felt it would be the best way to tell our story.


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Can you tell us a bit about the size and scope of The Frontier in comparison to the base game and/or official DLCs?


Tgspy: In terms of size, The Frontier is best described as a giant DLC. It’s actually larger in terms of actual records (think of records as every single tin can placed in the world or every tree) than all of the official DLCs put together! What was originally a small project with a much smaller and condensed basis is now a giant mod. We’re all incredibly surprised by the sheer size that the Frontier has grown to over the last few years thanks to the incredible talent of our team.


Odinsword: I would say it’s more akin to an expansion pack rather than a modern DLC. It's virtually the same size content wise as a new game.


Nazothedark: I would compare it to the expansions of yesteryear like Brood War or Opposing Force.

So, not as big as the base game but larger than the DLCs.


Macintroll: To be honest, the initial goal was a more modest project than what we are currently aiming for. But as the project drew attention from many of the best FNV modders, some unrivalled and genius scripters, we could include totally new mechanics, never present in this engine or the old Fallout games before.


The main world space itself is a square of 64x64 cells, and all of them are accessible for the player - it's a real open world with no place unreachable. So even if the map itself is smaller than the FNV map, we use more space and we could include more content in it.


Furthermore, we currently have 4 different world spaces that you will be able to explore depending on the main quest or side quests you play. Overall I think we have a huge area to play with, and that is only referring to the exterior parts. There are also many interior cells - some areas are as large as the engine allows, and some places are so big that we have split them into 4 or 5 cells combined. Vault 6 itself is really huge as it's a vault for, like, 1000 people, but you will also visit caves, frozen caves, dungeons, hangars, old abandoned (or not) offices, factories, and a complete metro and sewer system. If all goes well you will almost be able to cross the town without seeing the light of day.



It seems that you have opted for players to be able to explore your content with their existing player character. Why did you choose for The Frontier to be interwoven with New Vegas, rather than having it be a standalone campaign? How does The Frontier fit into the Fallout series in general, and New Vegas’ timeline in particular?


Tgspy: We chose to make it interwoven in the timeline of New Vegas because, in a lot of ways, it allows us to have a very solid basis for our lore and story. Since we run concurrently in the same time as New Vegas and the courier's story, we can more easily write out our own stories and don’t have to, essentially, work from scratch. There’s a lot of writing that we would have to do to fit the Frontier into its own separate campaign.


In terms of how the Frontier fits into the Fallout series, that’s one that individual players may have to ask themselves. The Frontier doesn’t make any major impact upon the courier's story as the official DLCs do, as we believe that may take out some of the genuine role-playing from the game.


Odinsword: It’s a decade after the battle of Helios One and concurrent with FNV.


Nazothedark: The Frontier takes place before the second battle of Hoover Dam.



What can you tell us about the story at this point?


Tgspy: Not a lot! Over the years we’ve taken a very straightforward “show, don’t tell” approach to the way we go about telling our story, as we believe that “spoiling” or giving everyone the story ahead of time could ruin the experience for people who want to go into the mod and experience something new and fresh. We like to keep the idea of letting people’s imaginations run wild with exactly what may be in store for the Frontier as they progress. The best way to get a sense of what the Frontier is about is watching our previous trailers, or by reading up on our website.


Odinsword: Thematically the stories within are the living echoes of the Battle of Helios One: how one day one event can steer the fates of so many people.


Nazothedark: There are multiple main quests and both deal with the conflict between the exiles and Northern Legion.



In your “Not Your Kind of People” trailer we learn that two factions from New Vegas, the (exiled) NCR as well as Caesar’s Legion, will play a major role in The Frontier. Will we see any other factions from New Vegas, or maybe even new factions altogether?


Tgspy: Yes! The Brotherhood of Steel will play a very very small part in the Frontier, which we’ve shown off in trailers already. Aside from the standard array of the NCR and the Legion, there will be many new factions for the player to interact with, namely the Scavs or Scavengers, which are the other major faction in the Frontier, consisting of the local population of the Frontier. There are factions ranging from very small to very large, so there will be plenty of variety.


Odinsword: Some old favourites make a comeback; some maybe not how you would think. Some new factions and groups will make their appearance as well.


Nazothedark: There will be returning factions, as well as plenty of new factions.



What new gameplay elements can we expect to see? Do you have any interesting new mechanics that tie into the new settings?


Tgspy: The biggest gameplay element we’ve shown off so far is the driveable vehicles. This is one of our big selling points, with incredible scripting and creature animation work. We have a unique gameplay feature that will be included with the Frontier as well, which is our own version of Frostfall for New Vegas, which ties into the incredibly cold environment in the frontier. It will require the player to be on their toes and keep warm, as freezing to death could be quite an inconvenience for players.


Nazothedark: The biggest new feature are the vehicles. NCR players will get tanks while Legion players will get rideable big horners.


Macintroll: Drivable vehicles - cars, tanks and vertibirds are now drivable, customizable and repairable thanks to our animator and creature goddess Jamilla and our lead scripter Devilswish. However, they will be in limited quantity so take care of them, if destroyed you'll lose them permanently. Vehicles can now also be your enemies, so be prepared to fight very dangerous and though enemies.



Hypothermia - we added a new gameplay element fitting the snowy place: coldness. You'll have to gear yourself properly, avoid freezing water and find warming places (fire pits) if you don't want to take frost damage and die from hypothermia.


Zero gravity combat and exploration - a great way to feel immersion in space, because you already know you'll go to space during the game.


New creatures and new mechanics for them - each of our newly implemented creatures have specific skills, combat styles, and you'll have to adapt your gameplay to fight them with success.



What can you tell us about the soundtrack for The Frontier? What mood are you aiming for and what are some inspirational sources that your composer(s) draw from?


Tgspy: Our soundtrack has a very simple mood behind it. Loneliness and Isolation. Many of our tracks are composed to make the player feel alone in this world, yet at the same time, make them cautious enough to keep their eyes open. The soundtrack is actually a combination of work from Averam, who worked on a number of his own Fallout 3 Music overhauls, Michael La Manna, a professional composer who provided quite a few pieces for us, and a number of other small time or hobby composers.


Odinsword: I'd say a big theme is the melancholy of the forgotten soldier, the suffering of the thankless hero. Some requests I have made have been influenced by western ballads like Streets of Laredo or Wayfaring Stranger.



Let’s talk a bit about the team behind The Frontier: How many people are currently working on the project and how do you organise?


Tgspy: Currently, we have a team of nearly 30 people. Now, due to commitments ranging from life to work to school, not everyone is active. However, we have a large sum of those people actively contributing to the Frontier at any time. Our team organisation is quite a bit different from other larger projects; especially that of the Skyrim projects. Due to the relatively small size of the team, we tend to work a bit more freely, with less actual “reporting” being done, and some people taking multiple jobs. It works well enough for us.



What was the initial inspiration to create such a huge, “supersized” DLC - as you intend for The Frontier to be - and to come together as a team to realise that vision?


Tgspy: When we first started the Frontier, I don’t quite think there was ever the idea that this project would get to the size it’s at now.


The original idea for the mod was to make another simple quest, inspired in part by the Rockwell series. Over time as interest in the project grew and more and more people joined up to the project, we rapidly expanded the premise of the mod into more DLC scale. This morphing has taken place over the last few years as the team grew and grew, and has reached a point where we are confident in calling this a DLC or larger scale mod.



Can people still join the project? Do you have a recruitment form?


Tgspy: Yes, we have a recruitment channel in our discord server. We currently do not accept writers, and we’re looking for any 3D modellers.



Is there anything else you would like to tell the Nexus Mods community, about The Frontier, the team, or in general?


Tgspy: Patience is key. We’re working hard to get this project done, but it won’t be done until we truly feel it’s done. We want to share this project with the world, and we believe people will greatly enjoy it.


Odinsword: Neil Gaiman once said something to the effect of: "Reading a story is to see a dream through the eyes of another man." Mods are no different. I hope that what we present inspires you, makes you take whatever dreams you have about the Fallout universe and put them to paper. Someone reading this right now is very likely to create something amazing because they saw this article.


A big thank you to the team from Fallout - The Frontier for answering our questions. If there's an author or mod project you'd like to know more about, send your suggestions to BigBizkit or Pickysaurus

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I'm glad to see that the Frontier Team has finally gotten the honor of being interviewed by Nexus Mods. I'm so happy for this mod team and I only continue to wish them the very best in their endeavors. I just know that this mod will pay off so much more than they anticipate. :)
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