RPS-ish At-Ish E3: Day 4 – Bethesda Softworks

By Mathew Kumar on July 19th, 2008 at 11:03 am.

I headline “Bethesda Softworks” to keep the format I’ve been using, but really I should just have put “Fallout 3” because that’s all they were showing and that’s all anyone cares about. I had a little bit of problem with this scheduled appointment – The time I was set to see it got confused by either PR or myself (we couldn’t decide) – so I didn’t perhaps get quite as much hands-on time as I would have liked (is there ever enough hands-on time at these kind of shows for hundred-hour RPGs?) But I got to stand and chat to executive producer Todd Howard while I waited, so it worked out for the best, really.

The most important things Todd told me was that there isn’t an Oblivion-esque “The World Scales With You” system. This is probably common knowledge, but lets write it anyway. There are easy areas, hard areas, and so on. There some bosses and stuff who do scale, but only roughly on the basis of when you first encounter them. Which is probably fair enough.

Talking about my hands-on experience of Fallout 3 actually feels a little dicey, because when I sat down to play I was given a long list of things I wasn’t supposed to talk about, which I promptly forgot. I know I wasn’t supposed to talk about anything the loading screens say (they feature background details on the world) which is a shame, as my reaction to one of them forms an at least mildly interesting anecdote. But let’s press on.

Fallout 3 is based on the Gamebryo engine and the modifications that Bethesda Sofworks made to it for Oblivion (I’m going to get this one right for sure) and the striking thing you’re going to notice as you move about the game world is that it feels very much like Oblivion. It doesn’t look exactly like Oblivion thanks to the urban decay, though there are some obvious markers – such as that weird, slightly wrong way that people look. But it kind of makes sense in Fallout 3 considering they’ve all been warped by radiation and stuff, I guess.

That it feels like Oblivion is a pretty important thing to note, I think. Because as a result (and I have to note that I played this with an Xbox 360 pad, not a mouse and keyboard) I didn’t like the real time fighting any more than I did in Oblivion. In fact less, because there was a great and immediate satisfaction to using Oblivion’s bows that the guns of Fallout (or at least, the ones from the early game) don’t have.

But that’s where the V.A.T.S system comes in. It is incredible. I refuse to believe anyone is going to play the game using real time combat when V.A.T.S is available. You see, V.A.T.S. turns every battle into an amazing cinematic event, and not in a lame way like a Final Fantasy game or something. The minute you spot an enemy, you choose your position to attack from, enter V.A.T.S mode, select the body part et cetera (classic Fallout stuff, you know the drill) and watch what happens. The cinematics are generated on the fly and delightfully satisfying. While shooting an enemy stalker (damn, er, just enemy) who is miles away with a pistol is a boring exercise in shooting at a dot, in V.A.T.S you’re able to watch as your bullets batter him with a pounding velocity, crippling his body parts or exploding his head [“or her head, obviously.” – Equal Opportunities Ed.]

During my play time, I had a fantastic battle with a feral dog using the V.A.T.S system, where I selected V.A.T.S the second he leaped for my throat, and popped him in the head repeatedly as he sailed through the air only to land as a sad little doggie corpse.

V.A.T.S removes completely the problem that we’ve all had with the Oblivions system of battles – that they look incredibly stupid – and turn it into something thrilling.

Anyway, after a few short battles, a bit of exploring and some interface fiddling (the Pip Boy 3000 is perfectly usable) my time was over. Before leaving I picked up one of the promotional bottles of “Nuka Cola” which was literally flat cola (and kind of nice for that, somehow) and asked Todd if they were going to include modding tools with the game for PC. His answer? That they haven’t announced anything, and they’re very focused on making a great game first and genuinely don’t know if they’ll include one or not.

It’d be a real shame if they didn’t as the modding community around Oblivion is pretty great, but it seems like at least the lessons they’ve learned from Oblivion might mean this is a game that doesn’t need patching by fans to make it actually playable.

I know, I know – I’m speaking too soon. I can’t help it – that V.A.T.S thing was awesome!

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129 Comments »

  1. Sum0 says:

    Fallout 3 in “actually quite good after all” shocker! It’s Oblivion, with Fallout, with guns. Works for me, though I recognise that many will have problems with at least one part of that formula…

  2. Smee says:

    What I want to know is whether or not people’s heads fall apart in normal real-time combat, or if the dismemberment effects are just seen in VATS combat.

  3. MasterBoo says:

    It’s Oblivion, without Fallout. When was the last time you played Fallout, Sum0 O_o?

  4. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    I really, really, really, really, more than anything else I hope about this game, really, utterly, completely hope they do get the modding tools out. I can’t imagine playing unmodded oblivion, and the things the community could do with Fallout 3 go way beyond the feeble limits of my imagination. They’d be silly billies not to release it.

  5. Pavel says:

    So I guess you didnt have time to talk to some NPCs and see dialogue, take some quests and generaly do some interesting stuff? VATS has been tried out almost exclusively by every other journalist, and the info about the actual interesting RPG stuff has been pretty scarce.Too bad.

    The only interesting preview from E3 has been posted on gamesradar, and the only interesting interview on gamevideos.com..the rest is just rehashing of good old killing and other uninteresting crap.

  6. register says:

    Which is faster – real time combat or VATS? No matter how cool it looks I imagine after 3 hours I’ll be either going to real time or skipping the cinematics. If that’s possible?

  7. mpk says:

    I don’t get the Oblivion backlash. It’s a perfectly decent game and sounds to me like a good basis to start from when designing a game like this. Was there this much vitriol when, say, Icewind Dale used the Baldur’s Gate engine? Honestly, it’s like someone announced a Planescape sequel using Unreal 3.

    I’ve never played the original Fallout games, so I can understand why the collective that seems to hold them so close to their hearts are worried about a different developer designing the third game but honestly aren’t you all just glad there is a third game?

  8. Pavel says:

    mpk – Oblivion was decent.I finished it and enjoyed it.But it had stupid minigame dialogue, nonexistant choices or consequences, the whole world was basically dead, Oblivion gates were aaaawful, and the level scaling idiocy killed any rpg progression system – you never felt rewarded.

    Fallout had none if its flaws.It had great world, choices with consequences, proper dialogue trees, leveling system that made sense (but wasnt perfect, although infinitely better than oblivions), and the story was also pretty good (while oblivions sucked).

    I enjoyed Oblivion for its nice atmosphere and quite a few very good quests – painter, dark brotherhood…but it was still much worse game than Fallout.

    As for FO3, I am still positive, although Todds insistence on showing stupid combat and VATS and bloody mess perk and the same area over and over again dissapoint me quite a bit.But I have faith in a lead designer Emil Pagliarulo, so here is hoping it will be a good Fallout game, not just a game.

  9. Dexton says:

    To mpk all I can say is: Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.

    It will very likely be Oblivion with guns rather than Fallout 3, of course that doesn’t mean it won’t be great but I am doubtful about it recapturing the feeling that made the original games so great. Then again I liked Tactics so maybe I am easy to please.

  10. SwiftRanger says:

    Sounds optimistic but do enemies get to do something in V.A.T.S. mode as well (like, hurt you)? Otherwise it would be like putting easy mode on. While Fallout’s turnbased combat wasn’t perfect by any means it didn’t offer insta-win one-way battles either.

  11. espy says:

    Did your character have the Bloody Mess perk as well? I found it a bit disturbing that all E3 videos show a character with that perk. Are gamers really so easily satisfied by a bit of gore? Pow, shot in the leg, head explodes, E3 crowd cheers stupidly. I’m baffled.

  12. Requiem says:

    Why would anyone be glad there’s a third game if it has virtually nothing in common with the previous games? If the Hypothetical Planescape sequel still had the same level of writing, didn’t redesign the setting and characters and improved the combat then I don’t think anyone would care what engine it used.

    But comparing Oblivion and Fallout is like comparing snooker and cricket just because they are both sports that use red and white balls and wooden sticks to move them around with.

  13. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Cautiously anticipating Fallout 3, because I’m well aware that this will play more like Oblivion than those top-downs from childhood memory, but Bethesda seems to be taking the bigger Oblivion complaints to heart.

    But yes, I would prefer they release modding tools. Oblivion had some fantastic mods, especially as far as Make-Things-Prettier went. Because, let’s face it, everybody in Oblivion looked, well, off.

    I recall some Oblivion mods from the far East side of the big map that let you make an honest-to-goodness pretty person in that game. And, as flexible as Oblivion’s character creation tools are, I’d honestly not thought such a thing possible.

    Though… Mass Effect’s spoiled me as far as convincing real-looking people goes. That, and they can actually talk and “act” convincingly in those fantastic dialogue sequences.

    I’m worried that this may have set my standards pretty high. Am slightly disappointed that your hands-on report indicated an Oblivion-esque level of “people wonkiness.”

    And I’ve just now noticed this, but apparently there’s a NEW! and EXCITING! box to click under the html guide beneath the comment window. I’m tempted to test its mettle.

  14. Okami says:

    I’ll just join all those people who complain, that all we’ve got to see from Fallout 3 so far was the combat and that there was no word about the quest, dialogue and skill system.

    I can understand Beth focusing on the combat and gore bits, because it’s 2008, games are rather expensive to make and you need to sell a lot of copies to make some money and the best way to do that is to show off gore, explosions and combat.

    Sad but true.

    But the thing is: It doesn’t look good. For an action game I mean. The way they just focus on the action, the game looks like a really boring shooter with mediocre graphics. I don’t think they’re doing themselves a favor with their E3 presentation.

  15. MetalCircus says:

    On paper (and acctually, in videos) VATS doesn’t seem all that remarkable… is it really that good?

  16. fearian says:

    I guess I trust you guys as you’ve played the game and I have not, but I was initially dissapointed at how ‘samey’ F3 looked- although you have raised my hopes a bit more now.

  17. 02sheslop says:

    What I want to know is, have they hired more than 4 naff voice actors to voice every single character in the game?

  18. grumpy says:

    I don’t get the Oblivion backlash. It’s a perfectly decent game and sounds to me like a good basis to start from when designing a game like this

    Are you kidding?
    Oblivion was plagued by gameplay flaws so basic that a 7-year old who’s never even seen a computer would have known to avoid them.
    Honestly, the fact that the people who gave us Oblivion’s level scaling are now in charge of one of the best RPG series ever scares the crap out of me. Sure, they *might* pull it off, but I see no reason to count Oblivion in their favor. The best they can do is forget they ever made it.

    Even if we ignore the flaws that made Oblivion unplayable unless you installed at least 5 different mods, we’re still left with a game that’s the complete opposite of Fallout.

    Oblivion was a *huge* world devoid of content. All NPC’s said the same thing, all dungeons looked the same, and the plot was…. in there somewhere. You didn’t really notice it much.
    It was a singleplayer MMORPG, really. Take the world from WoW or EQ2, and remove all players except yourself, and you pretty much have Oblivion.

    Fallout? Smaller world, but *packed* with actual content. Every point on the world map had a purpose, any NPC you could talk to actually had something to say.
    And the story really drove the game. You knew who you were, why you were there, and what you had to do.

    And so far, Bethesda doesn’t really seem to have grasped these differences too well.
    What they seem to be making is really Oblivion with the worst complaints fixed, and in a sci-fi setting.

    I won’t even call it a post-apocalyptic setting, because, well, they seem to have missed the “post” part. Fallout wasn’t about juggling nukes everywhere. It was about surviving when other people juggled nukes a hundred years earlier.

    But “hey, nukes are cool, so let’s add them as a weapon. And make the 200 year old car engines nuclear, so you can shoot them to cause an explosion. In fact, anything you hit should cause a nuclear explosion, because nuclear devastation is what Fallout is all about, right?”

    Wrong.

    That’s why I’m skeptical about Fallout. Not *just* because of Oblivion, but that certainly doesn’t inspire faith either.

  19. garren says:

    We all know how promises made by Bethesda were kept after Oblivion was released ;)

    Don’t buy the hype.

    Plus, I don’t think raping franchises for the FPS crowd is a good thing.

  20. Frank says:

    Thanks for the info, Pavel. The gamesradar thing has my hopes up now (though it seems not yours). Too bad the characters still look twisted and samey.

  21. Pavel says:

    Well i am still positive – gamesradar preview sounds good and that gamesvideo interview game me some hope as well, but I am still careful.Oblivion, while I liked it, had so many design flaws (see that rpgcodex review) that it just seems incredible that they would be able to suddenly change 180 degrees and make an outstanding game.

    On one hand, there is Emil as lead, which gives me hope, and on the other hand, there is FATMAN, exploding cars and Mutants that look like orcs.

  22. Pavel says:

    And another thing thing that worries me – since all the dialogue is voiced, and the game has to fit to only one dvd (because of xbox), I don’t know how much text is there going to be (and I know Howard said 40000 lines, but that number doesnt mean anything).

    Even Ken Rolston, lead designer on both Morrowind and Oblivion, prefers nonvoiced Morrowinds style –

    “I prefer Morrowind’s partially recorded dialogue, for many reasons. But I’m told that fully-voiced dialogue is what the kids want. Fully-voiced dialogue is less flexible, less apt for user projection of his own tone, more constrained for branching, and more trouble for production and disk real estate. Voice performances can be very powerful expressive tools, however, and certain aspects of the fully-voiced dialogue — the conversations system, for example — contribute significantly to the charm and ambience of Oblivion.”

  23. tmp says:

    Why would anyone be glad there’s a third game if it has virtually nothing in common with the previous games?

    Yeah, aside from the background, factions, underlying mechanics, even details like equipment… it has virtually nothing in common with previous games. Fallout 3 is polo simulation set in 19th century India, and starring haughty officers of British Empire.

  24. MasterBoo says:

    tmp: Turn based combat? Proper understanding of the franchise? Emphasis on RP rather than combat? Getting the story right? (the Enclave shouldn’t exists for example)?

    You missed these.

    It’s easy to think about a game set in the Fallout world but make it completely awkward (Like Teddy Bears decapitating bodies…)

  25. No Problem says:

    Fallout 3 will be excellent I’m sure, the only issue I have is with the total lack of lighting effects from this decade.

  26. Requiem says:

    “Yeah, aside from the background, factions, underlying mechanics, even details like equipment…” Right same background, which they’ve then ignored or contradicted or even rewriten. Factions, considering it’s set on the other side of the continent isn’t a bit silly and unoriginal to have the same factions? And the equipment which has also been redesigned or replaced, so there’s nothing recognisable (shown so far).

    Underlying mechanics? Other than they’ve streamlined SPECIAL to fit their LARP simulator environment rather than Fallout’s PnP simulation, seriously WTF?

  27. sinister agent says:

    What I want to know is, have they hired more than 4 naff voice actors to voice every single character in the game?

    Oh god, don’t. If they haven’t learned how atrocious that was and do the same thing for Fallout 3, they really do deserve to drown in cat vomit.

    “I prefer Morrowind’s partially recorded dialogue, for many reasons. But I’m told that fully-voiced dialogue is what the kids want. Fully-voiced dialogue is less flexible, less apt for user projection of his own tone, more constrained for branching, and more trouble for production and disk real estate.”

    That quote made me want to hit him a couple of years ago, and it makes me want to hit him even more now. By his own logic, you’re better off taking out all the dialogue entirely and letting the IMAGINATION WOW fill in the blanks.

    And the nicely passive-aggressive response in Oblivion was to include voices, but make them all uttery horrible, so you get the worst of both worlds and I suppose he thinks it proved his point. Idiot. Morrowind was utterly lifeless, and Oblivion was less so, but still empty of character. Fallout’s key characters with voices and faces were packed full of character, and still gave you room to play around and create an impact.

    Someone needs to beat into him that creating a colourful, interesting world full of characters does not mean just leaving it empty because you can’t be bothered/don’t have the talent to do it and hoping the player will do it for you. We’re more than capable of using our imaginations, thanks.

  28. Real Horrorshow says:

    We should show someone from Bioware that quote about voice acted dialogue, maybe he’ll head over to Maryland and smack some sense into Bethesda.

  29. heartless_ says:

    I never minded the Oblivion with guns comparison, as I never played Oblivion (there are a 1,001 fantasy games to play). Fallout 3 just needs to be a good post-apoc RPGish action game to satisfy me.

  30. SanguineLobster says:

    Hmmm, someone should make STALKER with bows.

  31. kadayi says:

    *News Alert*

    Strange as it may seem, but it’s rumoured that contrary to popular game enthusiast perception, Game developers don’t in fact all live in Ivory towers on faraway planets, but in fact do read game forums/press previews/fan sites & even emails they receive. I’m pretty sure that Bethesda are well aware of the mistakes they made regarding Oblivion and won’t be repeating them in Fallout 3, that’s not to say the game will be ‘perfect’, but whatever mistakes they make with it are far more likely to be new mistakes, not repeats of old ones.

  32. Caiman says:

    There’s more historical revisionism in the gaming industry than there is in politics. Oblivion was greatly enjoyed by a heck of a lot of people when it first came out, and saying that it was “unplayable” without mods is pure bile. It was certainly improved by mods (well, some of them), but the levelling system wasn’t *that* bad for goodness sake. It was “different” however, and how we have learned how dangerous that can be in games.

    As for Fallout, it was a pretty good game back in the day but I can’t for the life of me figure out the religious fanaticism that surrounds it these days. Of course, it wouldn’t be fanaticism if anyone could figure it out.

    Of course, I may as well be pissing into a cyclone for all the good my comments will have. But it made me feel better.

  33. Noc says:

    I’m sitting this one out, guys. Have fun.

    (Clarification: I’m sitting out this argument in the comments thread.)

  34. Volly says:

    There is nothing remotely remarkable about VATS. It’s just a fancy name for REAL TIME WITH PAUSE (remember the Infinity Engine games???)

    Anyway, Fallout 3 is going to suck as a fallout game and will probably be a half decent shooter with maybe 3 or 4 interesting quests. It will be forgotten after 3 months.

  35. Roman says:

    I find it unbelievable that Bethesda was able to crush even my very, very, verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyy low expectations with a single gameplay video. And this was then only based on the combat in the game something Bethesda normally is OKish at. But this was just… UGH

  36. King Awesome says:

    “…It will be forgotten after 3 months.”

    [snark] Like 99% of all games?
    [\snark]

  37. cyrenic says:

    Just to throw out an assumption, the RPGish stuff (NPC dialog and whatnot) was probably the stuff journalists couldn’t talk about after playing it.

  38. Juvenihilist says:

    Its a short video showing a fraction of something. Here´s hoping for something mindblowing.

  39. terry says:

    The more I hear of this game being Oblivion-esque the more I think it will stand or fall on the VATS. The classic turn-based games like Laser Squad, UFO, Jagged Alliance etc allow for far more immersion and tension than a mash-the-butan!!1 combat system like Oblivions. I guess the best of both worlds would be to have Mount and Blade’s realtime combat with UFO’s turnbased shenanigans.

    Now I am thinking of a turn based Syndicate and I am sad :(

  40. sinister agent says:

    As for Fallout, it was a pretty good game back in the day but I can’t for the life of me figure out the religious fanaticism that surrounds it these days. Of course, it wouldn’t be fanaticism if anyone could figure it out.

    Mm. Fallout was fun and novel, but the praise is a little over the top. I think though, that it’s basically because good RPGs are extremely rare, and good RPGs that aren’t about elves and bloody prophecies are almost unheard of.

    Plus it’s more replayable than most games, even RPGs. Where most will give you the option to either stab someone in the head, stab him in the back or ask someone else to stab him, playing a radically different character in Fallout could entertain you in a whole new way – the first time I tried playing through it as a hulking great ox with no brains, he was literally too stupid to speak, and all the dialogue was replaced with childish nonsense. Returning to the desperate, dying people and answering their grave “please, tell me you can help, we can’t hold out for long” with a gleeful “Nuh uh!” was oddly liberating, and the effort that had gone into setting up the game to offer a different experience that most players would never bother to do was commendable, and pretty unusual.

    Plus, you could shoot people in the clackers and have your dog gore them to death. Most RPGs take themselves far too seriously for that.

  41. mulayim says:

    Fallout “is” a good game, not “was”.

  42. Orange says:

    I hope V.A.T.S. redeems it, if it really is just Oblivion with guns then I’m steering well clear.

  43. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    The problem I’ve had with Oblivion and seeing Fallout is really simple but never been fixed. Floaty Walking (TM). There has never been a sense of weightyness to Bethesda’s walking style. It all seems like a floaty camera without any headbob. COD4 and Dark Messiah seem to get that right but not here which is a shame.

  44. Stromko says:

    I always shut off headbob personally, makes me a bit nauseated. Just shotgun a bag of sugar before you start playing and you can provide your OWN headbobs!

    V.A.T.S. is going to be a love or hate thing I think, personally I like what I’ve seen of it so far. I like that everything sort of stands in place while the bullets are rattling off — yes it is ‘easy’ mode in a way in that it makes twitch reflexes less important, but I’m sure your chances of hitting will depend on your character’s skills and therefore it’s vital to it being a ‘real’ RPG.

    The scaling system in Oblivion irritated me a lot until I started to enjoy what it allowed me to do, mainly wandering the countryside at will and investigating any abandoned fort or dungeon or quest that I liked. I /hated/ Morrowind’s system where some dude would just randomly tear me in half, but I understand how some would see that as a lot more realistic. The only way to succeed in Morrowind for me was to sneak into a high-level ruin and steal some awesome gear.

    Oblivion’s system was equally awful in that a character that wasn’t well-designed would always suffer and a strong character would always be strong, and also you could opt out entirely by just not using your ‘tag’ skills, but … well I thought the twitch controls were good and thankfully I stayed the hell away from the console version so I was able to get tons of mods for it now and then and play it with fresh eyes.

    Normally I wouldn’t give a game a pass based on how its flaws have been modded out, but the toolset did make it pretty easy to do what I needed to do with it. I thought levels advanced too fast so I modded it so I needed 15 skill-ups per level, and then I thought magic was too weak so I doubled magicka and (somewhat unsuccessfully) changed how soon I could cast high-level effects. Then hundreds of mods came out that did things too awesome for me to figure out, and I could totally transform the experience if I wanted.

    If Fallout 3 at least lets us easily change numerical parameters and is essentially stable and plays well, it will be great, there wouldn’t be much that wouldn’t be fixed by each user and tons of skilled and rabid fans. Too many games without good SDKs and toolsets expect people to mod them so they don’t suck (I’m looking at you, Crysis, even though I didn’t like you enough to even try) and there aren’t enough dedicated and skilled people to actually do it, but if they make it accessible to people with just basic word-processing skills to mess around with then I’ll be able to fix my own playing experience no matter what anyone else does.

  45. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Fine, you wrote about 5 oft the 6 games that really interest me. Now if you could dig up some news on Brütal Legend, that E3 would be finished for me ^^

  46. oilypenguin says:

    Did I miss an opportunity to complain by playing oblivion on the 360? The fact that I had to wade hip deep through bile to get through the thread posts makes me think I’m missing something.

    Yup, only 8 faces, 4 voices, weird character models, and strange animations… these were all there. But once you get past that, suspend a little disbelief and get into the game, I felt it was very entertaining. Also, progression kept things from being boring for completionists. I still got to the point I was killing things as soon as I looked at them, it was never a grind.

    I wonder, if people judged (the man who refuses to be called) Cliffy B by Jazz Jackrabbit, would Unreal have ever been made? I know, Unreal wasn’t the long-awaited sequel to many people’s favorite game of all time (TM) but it bears thinking that developers, especially people who care about their IPs as much as bethesda, learn from their old games and build on that. Rein in the vitriol a bit and let’s see what happens, shall we?

  47. Cephalocidal says:

    Pavel, quoting Ken Rolston -
    “I prefer Morrowind’s partially recorded dialogue, for many reasons. But I’m told that fully-voiced dialogue is what the kids want. ”
    I’m going to go ahead and side with the kids on this one. I, like, god damned near everyone else who was into gaming back around 2000, loved me some Diablo 2. I’ve gone back and looked at that unflappable affection many times since, and I always come to the same set of conclusions about why it stuck with me when so much else didn’t. There’s the whole being first thing, and that’s definitely worth a lot. But there’s something else, too – the voice. I remember Charsi’s name because I remember Charsi’s annoying-ass voice. All those creepy bastards in Kurast, the psychotic necro-peddler and the weary merc captain. They set the mood for an entire act of the game in a way that elevated it above what it really was, under the shine and voice-gifted mystique: A very generic and notionally evil swamp full of annoying pygmy spear-spastics. They made it matter, and they made it memorable. They didn’t make it less annoying, but that’s beside the point. Without voice D2 would not have been what it was, and without voice to set the tone Fallout 3 would really be nothing more than a slightly less engaging (hah!) Oblivion with guns.

  48. Al3xand3r says:

    If you have the right to be positive about Fallout 3 because you liked Oblivion, then people have every right to be negative about Fallout 3 because they disliked Oblivion. Equal rights for everyone and stuff.

    Also, Unreal wasn’t a sequel to anything, people had no expectations of it to be a platform game or an RPG and got a FPS instead…

    Sorry to break it to you, but I doubt Diablo 2 fans still play it thanks to the voice overs… It was/is just a mindless fun game.

    Try playing a game with actual story (I’d recommend planescape torment) and you’ll see voices have little to do with being able to deliver a grand story. It’s like saying books aren’t as good as movies because they have no sound…

    Anyway, the implementation of voice added to Diablo 2 in some ways, but forcing voice overs forces limits to the design of what’s supposed to be a grand, open ended RPG since you really can’t do voice overs for as many lines as you’d be able to simply write. You could code a quest line with 10 different outcomes depending on the approach the player takes and easily write the text for it, but it’s a lot harder to voice all of those outcomes, and Bethesda didn’t show any effort with Oblivion to have faith in them this time.

    Really, the best option is partially recorded, for main story NPCs and main events and such, with just text for everything else, assuming you justify that design with the sheer sweet epic scope of everything you create. Obviously if you’ll just make a Diablo 2 clone, then you don’t have much reason to not voice everything, though it’s still up to how fun the game is if it’s that kind of game anyway.

  49. sinister agent says:

    People have the right to be as cretinous as they like as much as others have the right to call them out on it.

    I thought, and still think, that Oblivion fell ridiculously short of its potential, and ended up being an okay, fun-ish game that frequently looked terrible simply because it kept reminding you of how good it could have been. I am ambivalent about Fallout 3 at this point, though gently nudged towards suspecting it’ll be a bit disappointing.

    There’s just not enough so far for us scummy commoners to say for sure what it’ll be like to play – most of the footage so far has been shooty shooty, but it’s possible that it’s merely being presented as such and everything else is being repressed.

    It could go either way. Either way, if they do make it just like Obliv, to the extent that they don’t fix all of its relevant faults, I think they’ll manage to piss off absolutely everyone.

    Try playing a game with actual story (I’d recommend planescape torment) and you’ll see voices have little to do with being able to deliver a grand story. It’s like saying books aren’t as good as movies because they have no sound…

    Nice false dichotomy there. People who play and like Diablo 2 must have never played anything else, ever. Nobody’s saying voice-overs are necessary to tell a story, but people are disputing the idea that adding them will somehow detract from a story or game. They’re a powerful tool, and will only make a game/story worse if they’re badly done, as they were in Oblivion.

    Although having said that, Obliv could possibly have overcome this with better writing and characterisation – Deus Ex, for example, had some atrocious voices, but the characters were consistent (you didn’t get every citizen saying exactly the same thing, or male elf face#3 switching awkwardly between ‘plot critical voice’ and ‘carefree townsman’ voice every other sentence) and the dialogue was generally pleasing.