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MCA post-mortem on Fallout: New Vegas and DLC


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On GameBanshee. Snip ahead:

You explored different themes with each DLC. What themes would you say were the most important in these add-ons, and do you feel that Fallout's story traditions suit focusing on such themes?

 

Lonesome Road was purposely built around the final image at the end of Fallout 1 - the Vault Dweller walking off into a lonely future. The idea of a protagonist whose home is lost to him, walking off into the wilderness after helping to nurture and protect a place that ultimately exiles him (or where he simply no longer belongs) is one of the hallmarks of Fallout. The sense of abandonment and the lone wanderer connection was important in Lonesome Road, except you're not walking into a lonely future, you're walking into your character's past and seeing what it's done in the present. Ulysses hints that it's possible the player left the West and left NCR because he didn't belong, and that's why he walked the road to the Mojave - but that's Ulysses' perspective, and the motivations for your character are your own.

 

I think Old World Blues and Lonesome Road had two themes that strongly hooked into Fallout, and have always been there. The theme of Old World Blues was always "the optimistic atomic future of what might have been," and the idea that all of these technological marvels could have saved the world if they had simply had a better guiding hand - it's not the technology to blame, it's the thought behind it.

 

Dead Money was more of a survivalist horror experience, and the theme of greed and human nature was an experiment that I felt fit with the adventure arc, so I went with it. I did feel that Fallout could use some more struggle-for-survival elements, and that was part of it as well - in short, I wanted miracle items like Stimpaks to feel amazing again rather than cause players to shrug.

 

As the title of the article (and the ending) hints, we'll have a part two up soon. :ermm:

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We have the second part online now :ermm:

Like you, many of us come from a PnP RPG background. When looking at Ulysses, we immediately think "GM's character", one of those heroes/anti-heroes the players can keep bumping into, that actually has agency unlike most other NPCs. Is that the idea?

 

Ulysses is a nemesis - a foil and a sounding board, yes. Also, for want of a better definition, he's designed to ego-stroke the player - he's clearly one of the legendary figures in the DLC, and the fact that he's so focused on your player character to the absence of almost everything else in the world is intended to make the player feel important, feel cool, and get the sense that they matter.

 

Many of the things that Ulysses says throughout the DLCs are intended to reinforce how capable the player is ("[Elijah's] Gone to the Sierra Madre. Someone tougher, stronger's going to kill him if the Madre doesn't." = Indirect compliment to you.) People on the forums got excited once they realized that someone was specifically looking for their player, and seeing a legendary figure consider their Courier important enough to follow to the ends of the earth makes the player's journey all the stronger, in my opinion.

 

Other than that, Ulysses is like any level 50 player character I would expect - he's been around, seen a lot, and can put a lot of the Fallout world in perspective, just like Elijah, Dr. Mobius, House, and Caesar. He's not my character, he's a character designed to make your player stronger, and be a challenging adversary to test yourself against (whether violent or not).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Awesome weskit.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Industrygamers MCA interview

IndustryGamers: Are you looking forward to a new generation of consoles, or dreading it? (As in, a whole new set of tools and bugs to wrestle with...)

 

Chris Avellone: I'm looking forward to it. While there's conveniences in developing for a consistent platform, at the same time, it's part of the industry that developers have to adapt to new console generations, and it's not so much a chore as one might expect. It's happening, so prepare and embrace, I say - we've done it before, we survived, and we can do it again.

 

IG: What's your role as chief creative officer mean in terms of how you spend your day?

 

CA: It keeps me busy. I attend all design meetings, for one thing. I find designers, manage designers, and I actively participate in the game design process, which means I look at all the design documents. It also means I'm playing all the builds and supplying feedback to the designer. I also contribute content, flesh out characters, and do things like create an area for DLC. If I didn't get to do some hands-on work like that I'd go crazy.

 

IG: What's the most important advances in RPG design in the last few years?

 

CA: That's tough. I'll say the "advances" have been more for player convenience, sometimes good, sometimes bad, in my opinion. Journals, quest compasses that point directly to the goal and show you the route, auto-maps, etc. are helpful; at the same time, I think it undermines the thrill of victory and discovery and a lot of what makes an RPG an RPG (exploration, notably). In terms of non-interface elements, I feel the idea of morally gray choices and more focus on actions and consequences has been great for RPGs across the board. Lastly, fully voice-acted characters has been something to adapt to since Knights of the Old Republic 1, and the amount of localization, recording and audio work that requires is substantial, but I feel it's a net positive for the player.

 

IG: Any chance you'll ever do your own IP instead of working on someone else's?

 

CA: Yep, we did one already (Alpha Protocol), and I'm sure others will become available in the future. Sometimes, a publisher will want a specific franchise developed into an RPG, and at other times (like with Alpha Protocol), the publisher just wanted an RPG to fill out their portfolio and left the actual IP to us. As for owning the IP

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Industrygamers MCA interview
IndustryGamers: Are you looking forward to a new generation of consoles, or dreading it? (As in, a whole new set of tools and bugs to wrestle with...)

 

Chris Avellone: I'm looking forward to it. While there's conveniences in developing for a consistent platform, at the same time, it's part of the industry that developers have to adapt to new console generations, and it's not so much a chore as one might expect. It's happening, so prepare and embrace, I say - we've done it before, we survived, and we can do it again.

 

IG: What's your role as chief creative officer mean in terms of how you spend your day?

 

CA: It keeps me busy. I attend all design meetings, for one thing. I find designers, manage designers, and I actively participate in the game design process, which means I look at all the design documents. It also means I'm playing all the builds and supplying feedback to the designer. I also contribute content, flesh out characters, and do things like create an area for DLC. If I didn't get to do some hands-on work like that I'd go crazy.

 

IG: What's the most important advances in RPG design in the last few years?

 

CA: That's tough. I'll say the "advances" have been more for player convenience, sometimes good, sometimes bad, in my opinion. Journals, quest compasses that point directly to the goal and show you the route, auto-maps, etc. are helpful; at the same time, I think it undermines the thrill of victory and discovery and a lot of what makes an RPG an RPG (exploration, notably). In terms of non-interface elements, I feel the idea of morally gray choices and more focus on actions and consequences has been great for RPGs across the board. Lastly, fully voice-acted characters has been something to adapt to since Knights of the Old Republic 1, and the amount of localization, recording and audio work that requires is substantial, but I feel it's a net positive for the player.

 

IG: Any chance you'll ever do your own IP instead of working on someone else's?

 

CA: Yep, we did one already (Alpha Protocol), and I'm sure others will become available in the future. Sometimes, a publisher will want a specific franchise developed into an RPG, and at other times (like with Alpha Protocol), the publisher just wanted an RPG to fill out their portfolio and left the actual IP to us. As for owning the IP

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I imagine it's an opportunity cost thing, similar to what MCA said on Twitter in regard to Alpha Protocol getting a smaller-scale downloadable sequel. Smaller projects take less time to crank out, have lower overhead and thus need fewer sales to break even, but you're still paying team members full-time, plus you have to add in the work that they could've been doing on other projects in your cost assessment. Even a small number of set-aside people could be responsible for the successful implementation of good content on another project, content that in their absence would be cut. Worse still, that lack of staff could cause delays or other problems. So you have to weigh the benefit of making a small game against the cost of diverting manpower from the games they would otherwise be working on. I believe MCA intimated that when you look at it this way, the costs of making smaller games gets really high, unless you score a massive hit.

 

With that quote I think what he was saying is that Obsidian is not in a strong enough position to start taking on those micro-projects at this point without it damaging the business model they use (3 AAA products in development at once), and moreover there's the implication of working outside the publisher system and just going straight to digital distributors, which adds on a whole mess of other concerns. Getting to a point where Obsidz can develop and publish its own games from a financially sound position might take awhile.

Edited by Pop
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With that quote I think what he was saying is that Obsidian is not in a strong enough position to start taking on those micro-projects at this point without it damaging the business model they use (3 AAA products in development at once), and moreover there's the implication of working outside the publisher system and just going straight to digital distributors, which adds on a whole mess of other concerns. Getting to a point where Obsidz can develop and publish its own games from a financially sound position might take awhile.

 

I think they are working on one microproject (Virginia). But it's not a priority, so it's most likely something they work on when possible like between projects etc. Assigning multiple people to work on it fulltime isn't really an option with two bigger games in development. And the amount of money the company "burns" each week means they need those bigger projects to be on schedule. The good thing is that now they have their engine "ready", they just need to tweak it to fit the design they are going with.

 

I just hope they are able to work and release some of their own projects in digital form, since I'd rather give my money to Obsidian directly than to any publisher like Bethesda. Please create a spiritual successor to King of Dragon Pass....

Hate the living, love the dead.

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of the things I've been pondering recently is the various industrial/governmental premiums on being BEST. That is superlative. Contrary to my prejudices, my observation has been that artistic creative endeavour favours (or at least has a niche for) awesome and ground-breaking. However, industrial products and commercial service activity do not. It's been making me re-assess my own career interests, since temperamentally I favour doing awesome stuff, and pushing boundaries. yet you'd be amazied how little demand there is for that! o:)

 

Point being that all these interviews talk about doing new and exciting things to a 'triple A' standard.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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I imagine it's an opportunity cost thing, similar to what MCA said on Twitter in regard to Alpha Protocol getting a smaller-scale downloadable sequel. Smaller projects take less time to crank out, have lower overhead and thus need fewer sales to break even, but you're still paying team members full-time, plus you have to add in the work that they could've been doing on other projects in your cost assessment. Even a small number of set-aside people could be responsible for the successful implementation of good content on another project, content that in their absence would be cut. Worse still, that lack of staff could cause delays or other problems. So you have to weigh the benefit of making a small game against the cost of diverting manpower from the games they would otherwise be working on. I believe MCA intimated that when you look at it this way, the costs of making smaller games gets really high, unless you score a massive hit.

 

With that quote I think what he was saying is that Obsidian is not in a strong enough position to start taking on those micro-projects at this point without it damaging the business model they use (3 AAA products in development at once), and moreover there's the implication of working outside the publisher system and just going straight to digital distributors, which adds on a whole mess of other concerns. Getting to a point where Obsidz can develop and publish its own games from a financially sound position might take awhile.

 

I get the overall point of what MCA said, but have Obsidian stated whether or not they are still considering a smaller-scale downloadable sequel to AP?

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