Wasteland 2′s Delay: All About Making Choice Matter

By Nathan Grayson on July 30th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

Wasteland 2 isn’t coming out when we thought it was coming out. That’s probably the greatest tragedy of modern times, maybe of recorded human history. But the reasoning behind it is actually far more interesting than inXile’s original blog post let on. Yes, yes, polishing up the rusted over cessparadise is a big part of the developer’s reasoning, but even once it’s feature complete, creative effort will continue right up to the last second on one key portion of the game: choice and reactivity. Think less Mass Effect, more Witcher 2 with a hint of Deus Ex. And maybe even more than that.

“We’re really hanging our hat on reactivity,” inXile CEO Brian Fargo told RPS during a recent studio visit. “Reactivity and choice. The scope and scale of the game, and the reactivity part is an absolute part of [the delay]. The levels are all fundamentally in, and all we’re doing is sitting around all day saying, ‘What about this? What about this? What about that?’ We watch people playing the game, and they come up with a clever way to do something, we want to accommodate that. That’s why with role-playing games, we can do difficult puzzles. It’s not like an adventure game where you hit a stop and you’re just done. I can level up and get around something. Brute force it. Blow it up. Find another route.”

About half the game, most people will never see.

“We want to make those changes all the way to the last second. Some of that requires dialogue. I think that’s why you’ve seen some role-playing games become more cinematic. They’ve got to lock and load the audio five or six months before it’s done. So you can’t make changes like that. For us, we’ll be making those changes until the last second.”

But just how far-reaching can differences between different playthroughs be? Well, you know how Witcher 2 received 427 Nobel Peace Prizes for its billion-headed hydra of a second act? Think that, but in many, many, many more locations.

“We aren’t shy about shutting off entire levels of gameplay,” said project lead Chris Keenan. “We really wanted to make that happen.”

“We have so many sequences,” added inXile president Matt Findley. “About half the game, most people will never see. We’re not afraid at all to create content that’s off the critical path or can be closed off permanently.”

Quite the contrary, actually. Fargo and co are embracing their newfound ability to create with one hand and destroy with the other. Unlike many developers who want to wrestle control away from your hands so they can [Aladdin music] show you the world, the entire point of Wasteland 2 is that you’re in the driver’s seat.

“On the biggest level,” Fargo continued, “there will be areas that will be completely different. Gone, destroyed. There’s not one just like it to make up for it. It’s just gone.”

“And we show the reactivity,” Keenan said. “If you go to one area, you start to hear radio calls from the other. They’re getting taken over, and if you try to veer back, you see the destruction from that, and they’re in a completely different state. For instance, if you’re too late to a call, maybe robots took it out. If you go there, you’re gonna see carnage. Piles of dead bodies. No robots left to kill because they’ve moved on.”

The fact that Kickstarter chipped in nearly three times the game’s original budget hasn’t hurt, either. In fact, it’s enabled Fargo and co’s “risky” behaviors in multiple ways, allowing for a rather massive boost in scope and ensuring that the game’s already paid for. Sales are just an (admittedly very nice) bonus.

“We over-funded,” Fargo boasted, beaming. “I don’t make any money from this. Me, I want to make a game that people talk about the way they do Fallout and Wasteland, 10 or 20 years from now. I’m only focused on that and what I have to do to make sure it hits all the points I know work for the game.”

He then fast-balled further examples. What if, for instance, you disobey Ranger orders to the point of becoming a liability? You become a pariah. Your own organization turns on you, hunts you. The entire game changes. And then, of course, there’s the extra-colossal, radiation-mutated elephant in the room: you can kill anyone, anytime. And sometimes – for example, if a party member won’t stop selling your stuff for booze money – you might have to.

“Remember: you can shoot or kill anybody in the whole game,” Fargo interjected. “That in itself [is huge]. If someone joins your party, you can kick them out, kill them, whatever you want. There’s whole sequences you’re not gonna see later because you offed the guy. We just deal with it. There’s no replacement – no NPC that joins you and acts just like him functionally. He’s out. You’re just not gonna see it.”

It’s an approach that’s definitely ambitious, to say the least. One that could even outstrip the games it’s most indebted to – the Fallouts and Wastelands of yore – in some ways. Of course, it’s all just talk until we have proof in our starving claws, but inXile’s message is clear: no illusions. Just a world that’s crumbling, and you can either duct-tape it back together or help knock it down. Or you can just do your own thing and leave no one happy. At the end of the day, it’s your call.

“It’s not real reactivity unless we do that stuff. Otherwise it’s just a magician’s trick. You’re getting the same thing. It’s not that. It’s a virtual impossibility for two people to have the exact same experience of the game.”

“I’ve felt the pressure of this since the beginning and I’ve just pulled out all the stops to make sure that it’s hit every single point that anybody’s going to want to see in these classic games. But not to let myself get locked in the past. I’m not trying to re-create what it’s like to be in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s.”

I recently got the chance to see oodles (and even a few kaboodles) of Wasteland 2, so look forward to hearing more about it all week. Expect impressions tomorrow, and a smattering of other details and interviews in the days to come. Also maybe a little Torment, and a Very Important Discussion of spiders in games.

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120 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I welcome our overenthusiastic overlords!

  2. pilouuuu says:

    That kind of gameplay is what I feel most RPGs are lacking nowadays. I think the mention of party members dying and a replacement appearing is a criticism of Mass Effect. I liked the game a lot, but the lack of consequences was annoying.

    I can’t wait for this. And I’m also looking forward Torment news!

    • Ernesto25 says:

      I think MR botongue on youtube summed it up the best that the old crpgs didn’t need to market choice as a selling point choices were the by product of having a world to roleplay in. I don’t mind some choices not mattering but if you are going to market the game as choice (walking dead im looking at you) the consequences better be different and well done.

      There is the other kind of rpgs which seems to be purely combat and stats based linear games with little roleplaying at all which i odn’t like. Maybe i just need to find a d and d group!

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        Yeah, because when I think of RPGs that aren’t combat-focussed and filled with people obsessing about their stats, D&D is the first one that comes to mind…

        [rpg snob sequence complete]

        • Supahewok says:

          As with all things pen and paper related, the most important factor is not the setting or the system being used, it’s the people you’re playing with. DnD can be as much or as little about combat and stats as the players and DM want it to be.

          • Ernesto25 says:

            Pretty much this, what i meant was with a good dm it can go anywhere and not literally about the combat (which i find tedious anyway). Where as soem rpg its literally a corridor and loot.

  3. aliksy says:

    Sounds promising. Glad to see them going the opposite direction of (example) Skyrim’s “No, this NPC is too important to let die!” nonsense.

    • phelix says:

      Or the “two sides of the conflict” civil war quests that turn out to be perfect mirrors of eachother. Oh, Todd, you liar!

      • kaffis says:

        You guys have it right on. This is the best reason to delay a game I’ve ever heard of.

        I’m so damn sick of people fawning over Bioware’s conversations and morality — it’s so shallow and fake. I’m not impressed anymore by conversation scripts that react with a single line and then loop right back into what the NPC was going to say no matter what, with no change in attitude or content for the rest of the conversation, let alone the quest itself that followed.

        Equally boring are the bullet-pointed “Multiple endings based on your choices in the game!!!” where the two endings are simply a sliding scale of “have you been a saint or a dick?” with no gradations or subtlety. Morality is not a binary thing that can be quantified on a single axis. Its affect on the story shouldn’t be, either.

        So that’s two out of three of my CRPG pet peeves that Wasteland 2 is professing to tackle — that’s pretty awesome. I’m happy to write off “encourages and rewards obsessively sociopathic kleptomania” if those other two are handled well…

    • woodsey says:

      Considering it’s possible those important NPCs will be murdered by dragons, I’d say that’s pretty understandable. Yes, an on/off switch in the menu would be appreciated – but acting as if the decision is mystifying is a little disingenuous.

  4. Ernesto25 says:

    Looking forward to it along with any other crpg’s throwbacks. Should i skip witcher 1? i keep wanting to see what the witchers about but am stuck on the 2nd act due to a lack of willpower to play on.

    • Premium User Badge

      LTK says:

      You can safely skip the Witcher 1, and you’ll still be able to get a general understanding of what’s going on in the Witcher 2. I played them in reverse, and I was actually glad that I did, because I found the Witcher 2 to be a way better experience that got me sufficiently invested in the world to remain interested in the first game, once I got around to playing that.

      I haven’t had a particular interest in Wasteland 2, but what they’re saying here intrigues me. This seems like something to look out for, definitely.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        Ah thanks, wasn’t sure if the imported save made a difference at all.

        • Detocroix says:

          Yeah if you’ve played to second act, you’ve probably “learned enough” for Witcher 2. The Witcher 1 is a game worth finishing, but there are some really annoying sections and horrible combat doesn’t exactly help it… :(

          • Don Reba says:

            I liked the combat in Witcher 1 quite a bit. Maybe there is a learning curve or maybe it depends on your build.

          • Ernesto25 says:

            @don reba it was more the fact i was bored the combat was ok if a bit perplexing why it was chosen to play like that.

          • paddymaxson says:

            Engine limitations for the most part. I think they probably quickly realised that action combat wouldn’t work well in the NWN engine ;p.

            Give the game a chance though, you should really finish it. It’s actually a brilliant game. I love it, it’s just a bit ponderous in areas.

    • Zylinski says:

      I think Witcher 1 is a by far better RPG than Witcher 2. Why? Sure, the second one got nicer graphics (well, it is newer) and more fast paced action combat. They have about the same amount of really tough choices and consequences. But the first game has a much more interesting story. Choices and story are what I think matters in RPGs, so I think the Witcher 1 is better. One of the only bad things about Witcher 1 is the first few dull hours, but it REALLY takes off after that. Some complain about the combat, but that also gets much better after the first few dull hours.

      • WrenBoy says:

        I realise that I am in a minority but Act 1 of the Witcher was my favourite. You are not yet overpowered so the alchemy mechanics work well and the story has a satisfying arc.

        Also, while there is a lot I liked about Witcher 2, Act 2 contained some dreadful story telling. It throws a bunch of missions at you at once, most of which appear out of nowhere and are magically only explained in the missions screen. Honestly thought it was a bug till I realised they were making no attempt to fix it.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I liked the Witcher 1 a bit more than 2, but wasn’t hugely impressed with either game. The first seems to offer a bit more exploration and the second a bit more narrative. I found the characters to be cardboard cutouts, but you might like it differently, or not as the case may be.

      • jerf says:

        Cardboard cutouts?? Sorry, but if characters in The Witcher games are cardboard cutouts, then where they’re not?

  5. battles_atlas says:

    Just playing through Shadowrun now and whilst the nostalgia is heady and some of the writing sterling, I can’t help being a little underwhelmed. Wasteland 2 is looking like pushing the envelope though, fingers crossed

    • AngusPrune says:

      That’s almost exactly what I was going to say. I’m on my second run through of the Shadowrun now, and I’m barely reading the text because there’s nothing new to read. I probably won’t play it a third time.

      Wasteland 2 almost has to be good now to vindicate these Kickstarted retro RPGs. No pressure guys.

      • Meridian99 says:

        I backed both games. We should keep in mind that SR made 1.1 million less than Wasteland. And, SR is all about the content that will come out of the editor they provided.

        • battles_atlas says:

          True, they went a very different route. No doubt the editor will produce some great stuff later on. Cant help feeling though that the story of Shadowrun Returns is a little mundane for such a rich universe. Maybe for those that are hardcore Shadowrun this is ok, but for me I was expecting something a little bigger than a murder mystery

        • AngusPrune says:

          I’d like to think that’s true, but there are a number of reasons why I don’t think the “UGC will make it all better” line flies. Here’s a few of them:

          1) UGC is fundamentally limited by the structures put in the place by the base game. There’s only so much you can do without modifying the underlying code, so new scenarios created in the editor will all share the limitations of the base game.

          2) UGC is rarely better than the original, even when a straight copy. Compare Black Mesa to Half Life. The graphics are undeniably better, the combat AI is harder and smarter, but they missed a lot of the point of the original. The subtle pacing that made Half Life the great game that it is is missing. Even some of the important environmental details, like the missile in the trapped warehouse aren’t there. There are of course the occasional gems, but in general UGC is poorly written, plotted and paced. It’s the very definition of amateur.

          3) Generally, lasting modding communities form only around very good games. Even with no programming work to do, you have to have a huge player base to find the excellent artists and designers that making a good story requires.

          Maybe time will prove me wrong, but I don’t really expect to get much mileage out of the steam workshop content of this game.

          • battles_atlas says:

            Honestly, I doubt i’ll ever play any community stuff, based on the fact that I never have in the past – always something new to play. So I can’t disagree that in practice anything that comes out of the community is unlikely to make a difference, to me at least.

            But… the Shadowrun world is all about the stories – its home format is as a board game isnt it? You could generate something significantly more compelling that what they have from the same engine, using the same assets. The story is too parochial, and to be honest, in the last third its all a bit silly.

            I worry a fundamental problem with the common kickstart nostalgia approach is they bring back the original writers. I’d really like to see them be braver and bring in new talent and really give them space to work. Creativity does not often age well, and it hasn’t in the case of whoever plotted Shadowrun Returns.

          • InternetBatman says:

            #1 is sadly right. We’ll see Harebrained schemes patch in a decent save system (and I’m not entirely sure if they can), or we won’t have a widely used one.

            #2 is kinda right, but kinda wrong. Yes most UGC is crap. Complete and utter crap. But the existence of a few gems is what makes UGC worthwhile. It’s not like most games are great either. Shadowrun at least has a large universe for people to play in, providing variety if nothing else.

            #3 is absolutely false. I give you the original campaign of NWN and Shadows of Undrentide as exhibit A. For all its flaws, Shadowrun never sinks into NWN levels of dreck. DF is another game with far more mods than the relatively small size of its audience should generate. I think the target audience is just as important as the popularity or mastery behind the game.

          • twincast says:

            1) The editor can in fact do more than they used in The Dead Man’s Switch – some of it elegantly, some less so. The only real issues are the (current) save system and the inability (so far) to equip and upgrade other characters without the use of unwieldy trigger menus. And since the Berlin campaign is supposed to be more sandboxy (and therefore probably more open-worldy), I (not fully but reasonably) expect them to integrate a proper save system till then.

            2) True in general, but given the big adaptation projects in the works right now, I’m pretty optimistic.

            3) Since when is the OC of NWN considered very good? Or really anything more than mediocre? That might be true for games that don’t come with editors or modding tools, but for those that do the quality of the core game is fairly insignificant. NWN2 was a better game but had a worse editor, so its predecessor had much more UGC in the end. And SRR has the added bonus of being unique in setting, so I don’t fear for the community at all.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I just finished Shadowrun. The final act kinda sucks. The save system really sucks. The loot distribution is uneven (although that fits the universe really well). I’m not disappointed.

      The writing fits the setting really well, and lord almighty cRPGs need some different settings. The matrix sections are pretty neat. The classes are incredibly distinct. I’m intrigued to see what will come of the Berlin campaign.

      • battles_atlas says:

        I thought the matrix settings sucked. I’d much rather the mini game from from the SNES. As it was it was just the normal combat with a different overlay. Some variety would have been welcome.

  6. jalf says:

    “We made so much money that we’re going to ditch our original idea and make another game instead”.

    Am I the only one who’s saddened by the endless stream of Kickstarter “successes” who basically seem to be saying “we were never really very invested in the game we actually *pitched*, so since you guys gave us so much money, we’re going to change it. Oh, and delay it.

    What’s wrong with just making the game you described in your Kickstarter pitch?

    Well, good for them I guess. Hopefully these changes will turn the game into something they actually *want* to make. I’m just old-fashioned enough to hope that when someone pitches an idea for a game, it is because they’re in love with *that* idea, and that *this* is the game they want to make, and not just something they settled for, but will gladly move away from if given the chance.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nogo says:

      No game or large creative endeavor has ever resembled it’s imagined form except in the most superficial ways. If anything, a rigid adherence to an idea is the best way to ruin something.

      You just don’t know what will or won’t work until you try it, and sometimes unexpected things occur that drastically change your focus: for example, Half-Life was never supposed to have friendly NPCs until an AI programmer, who’d made himself squad leader to work on the grunt AI, found it incredibly endearing to have friendly characters follow him around.

      It was a massive change that took HL from being an Unreal clone to the juggernaut that spawned Valve. Simply because they were open to letting the project shape its own course.

    • AngusPrune says:

      I don’t know. I think everyone has their little dreams of what they’d do if they had money to burn. Their plans are necessarily limited by reality. I think it’s just a case that they got a lot more money than they thought the market would bear, and now they can make the game of their dreams. I hope so, anyway.

    • Brother None says:

      I’m not sure how that applies here? This is Wasteland 2 as promised during the Kickstarter, reactivity was always a focus, the big budget just allows inXile to do more of it.

    • foda500 says:

      Are you seriously complaining about developers giving the players choice and making the world/characters react to those choices in an RPG? Seriously?

    • The Random One says:

      What the glittering hovering thrice-blessed Christmas-themed fuck are you talking about? This is precisely the game they pitched. In fact, it is the game they pitched to an extent that borders the Socratic ideal of the game they pitched.

      • subedii says:

        Yeah I don’t know about anyone else, but this sounds like the game they were talking about when they pitched it.

        Certainly sounds like the game I backed, only more enthusiastically so.

      • oxykottin says:

        Well said my friend well said…

      • Keyrock says:

        If there was a “like” button I’d be mashing it right now. This is EXACTLY the game they pitched, they’re just pushing the envelope and trying to make the absolute best and most ambitious version of what they pitched. As long as Fargo manages the money and doesn’t let this go the way of Broken Age, I applaud the ambition.

      • Drowed says:

        Well, yeah. To me, it seems they are doing a *larger* version of the game they promissed.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Faldrath says:

    Lots of features on Wasteland? Nathan, you’re forgiven for that earlier Journey piece. All is well!

  8. Godly12 says:

    Im all for them holding off releasing to make the game even better, though I do hate waiting. LOL. I cant wait for this one to be released. I loved Fallout 1 and 2 and I missed the first Wasteland. We havent had any good RPGs like the first 2 Fallouts in a long time so Im very excited for this one.

  9. Paul says:

    I really really hope that reviewers are going to take their time with this game, maybe replay it, to see and appreciate this reactivity in action. Because to most of them (especially console ones) it should be complete revelation.

  10. Jack--Dandy says:

    This sounds so amazing.
    I’m so glad I backed this!

  11. Premium User Badge

    JamesTheNumberless says:

    Scary train is both happy, and angry, at the same time.

  12. MichaelPalin says:

    I really need to know: what’s the problem with not giving a release date until it goes gold? The only reason there are delays is because there are release dates. I understand that big companies are obsessed with quarterly reports and need to put dates on everything, but why do small studios need to make any release date public? Just keep it internal and release the game when it is done and stop wasting our time!

    • FuzzyPuffin says:

      Well, this was a kickstarter, and they are required to give dates for deliveries of rewards.

      99.9% of Kickstarters don’t meet those dates, though, so it’s rather pointless.

    • Flavors says:

      It’s important to have a deadline. Otherwise they’d just work on it and work on it until the money runs out or the world begins to look like their game.

      • MichaelPalin says:

        Yes, but why does that deadline need to be public? I don’t think that just because a deadline is not public it will matter less for them, no developer wants to develop a game indefinitely.

        • dolgion1 says:

          As a software developer myself, I would say that having a deadline is really important because then you have a frame of reference in which you can then plan the entire workflow, it brings things into perspective and gives people something to aim for. Also it can be useful to make such a date public (doesn’t have to be a date, could be a more vague point in time like October 2013), because then it adds some pressure to meet the date and all the minor ones that are based on that, for example, if the game must be finished in October 2013, this could mean that writing the script has got to be done in February 2013, otherwise everything else afterward is delayed with it. The pressure to hold your estimates that you gave the backers can be a powerful motivator too. And also, these estimates are made up by the developers themselves, not a publisher, so it’s fair.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            I think a deadline is a scope set by time. I think you can also set a scope in terms of functionality.

            Open source is often good at the latter. Companies are often bad though. Which makes the time thing a good idea.

    • Lemming says:

      It’s not so much a problem, as a boon of being self-funded and independent. A release date announcements is something enforced by publishers. All the great ones: Valve, Blizzard (of old), Runic, smaller indies etc, use the ‘done when it’s done’ approach.

      • MichaelPalin says:

        Actually, the way in which Valve and Blizzard do it is even worst, because the hype and the waiting period are generally even longer, because they still announce their games way too early and then the lack of fixed deadlines means that they are delayed more. I correct myself and say that it is not only a release date, developers and publishers should really stop talking about their games until the release date is a sure thing, which I guess would be somewhere aroung 3-4 months previous.

  13. buzzmong says:

    This game scares me.

    I’m glad I’ve backed it, but Brian Fargo keeps saying they’re doing the things I really want in a game.

    It scares me because I normally approach comments like those with a healthy dose of realism born from years of dashed expectations, but he, along with Chris Roberts and Star Citizen, is saying it in such a way that I think they may actually pull most of it off.

    • kaffis says:

      This is so true. Normally, my armor of cynicism +3 is able to brush off most grand, Molyneaux-esque claims so I’m not disappointed by the result.

      That armor has proven almost entirely useless against Wasteland 2 and Star Citizen. My soul will be crushed in disappointment if they don’t deliver.

      • dolgion1 says:

        I don’t know if my faith in games could survive a critical strike of The Rod of Disappointment if wielded by Sir Fargo, knowing that his special ability is to pierce right through that armor of Cynicism +3

  14. Urfin says:

    Cutting off content is, besides plain killing the bastards, about the only way to make player choices matter. Cuz not getting to see what’s at the end of the trail hurts. I’m a-ok if they spend half the budget on that. Doesn’t look like it’s going the Weissman way, so that’s comforting.

    • Lemming says:

      It’s a great and bold move, but hopefully it doesn’t bite them in the arse as people end up finishing the game in 2 hours wondering where all the content is.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Can we please not turn this into a deathmatch between Fargo, Weissman and Roberts and whoever else gets a Kickstarter nostalgia trip going? Garriot too I guess…

      Weissman released a sweet-ass RPG in Shadowrun Returns and I’m getting kind of sick of people just shitting all over it so flippantly.

  15. Drake Sigar says:

    I have a deep respect for any game which puts in a big heap of content the majority of players may never see, a quality many of my favourite games share.

  16. lomaxgnome says:

    Sounds great, much like Fallout 2 in some respects. And just like that game, it will almost certainly release as an ungodly buggy mess. Because when you have that much flexibility, you just can’t possibly account for everything people will do (no matter how big or small your dev team is). That’s the chronic problems with Obsidian games as well. I’m sure it will be ironed out over time, but I’ll definitely put this one on the back burner after release until we see quite a few patches.

    • WrenBoy says:

      That is a pretty reasonable judgement, especially given his statement that they will be making changes up until the last minute.

      I am still impressed with his ambition though and am looking forward to playing, bugs and all.

    • Fry says:

      No doubt there will be bugs, but I think really buggy games are often the result of rushed production due to publisher pressure. Presumably, this game won’t have that problem.

  17. Eddy9000 says:

    I don’t know how important I think choice is. I mean done well choice and consequences in a game can draw the player into the script or into the role they play and provoke thought about their actions, but a lot of the time it just means that you won’t see all of the game if you don’t have the time-luxury of a replay, or miss out on bits of the game you might have enjoyed more than the bit you got.

    I was a real fan of ‘The Walking Dead’s” illusion of choice: the experience of choice was something that drew you into the story and connected you with it in a way only interactive fiction can, the consequences were how you felt about your actions, but behind the curtain your choices had less in-game consequence then it might appear and less of the product was wasted because of them.

    I guess I think choice is more important than consequence for me: If an NPC was dangling off a cliff my experience of choosing either to desperately grab his hand before he fell off or to stamp on his fingers until he fell would let me role-play my character, personalise my experience and immerse myself in the game, despite the fact that with either choice the NPC died.

    • tuluse says:

      I know man. I hate it when games do this.

      Like in Mario if I don’t jump in time, I die and I don’t get to experience the rest of the game. What’s that all about?

      I much prefer game devs to feed everything to me in a small tube, perfectly paced, so it’s never too slow nor too fast. I just can’t take it when I actually have some control over what happens.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I think your reply is unnecessarily rude honestly. The opposite of missing out on large parts of a games experience because a choice and consequence system that adds little else to the game isn’t being “tube fed” or not having any control. I was simply trying to have a dialogue about the downsides of consequence in a game and the potential for it to be tokenistic. I clearly haven’t criticised choice and consequence outright, or criticised anyone who does enjoy it.

        PS: If you die in Mario you just never play the game again? You know you can restart the level right?

        • tuluse says:

          It was absolutely an extremely rude response. That’s because I find your opinion abhorrent, and I find it to be in direct opposition to good RPG design, and possibly game design.

          If choices don’t have any consequences, you’re not playing a game. I simplified it down the absolute bare minimum. In Mario you have 3 choices, which direction to move and when to jump. If you fail to use your choices well, you lose. That’s what a game is. If the choices have no consequences, failing to jump doesn’t lead to losing, it’s no longer a game. It’s just a movie masquerading as a game.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            If you find people asking whether consequence in computer games is fundamentally a good thing “abhorrent” and feel the need to answer in a snarkey and impolite manner rather than having a polite debate then you should probably try to experience more of the world; it’ll give you some perspective and you might learn some manners along the way.

          • Reefpirate says:

            I think you’d fit in better over at the Codex.

    • WrenBoy says:

      Really dont get the love for the walking dead. I clicked on everything there was to be clicked until halfway through episode 5 and then ran out of clicks to give.

      • JackShandy says:

        I love this description, I’m going to apply it to everything.

        “Yeah, I never got the appeal of Spelunky. I just jumped over everything until there was nothing left to jump over.”

    • Jack--Dandy says:

      Good thing they aren’t making this game for people like you, then :>

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ll enjoy it anyway because I like rpgs. But you’re right that as a father who works long hours and probably won’t be able to replay this game I’m probably not someone who will get the most out of it.

        • The Random One says:

          If you only play the game once there’s no difference between the illusion of choice and legitimate choice. Not unless you get hung up on how the paths you missed might have been more fun than what you got. Grass is always greener right?

          • Eddy9000 says:

            I absolutely agree! I would use this point to question whether consequence is as important in long form factor games (where replaying is less likely) as choice is. I enjoy making choices that immerse me in the game and personalise it for me somewhat, I’m not too fussed about the narrative consequences of that choice. Baldurs gate is a good example, I can play a thief character, but due to the party system can experience other classes, I can choose the brash dialogue choices over the noble ones but still essentially see all of the game.

          • The Random One says:

            Well, my thoughts don’t seem to match the majority’s, but I’d say your perception of a well told story as you play a game is the most important, and whether or not your decisions had real weight is ultimately meaningless because in the end you are only playing a game. But if decisions have real consequence then people who do play a game multiple times will have more fun when they replay it. So fake consequence pleases people who think like us, while real consequence pleases both us and them.

        • Lemming says:

          By ‘won’t get to replay the game’ are you saying that playing this once, and only once is the only gaming experience you’re ever likely to have? Because I think you’re thinking about this the wrong way. Look at it as a game you’re going to be able to come back to for years to come, without having to buy new ones?

    • pilouuuu says:

      That’s fine, but as soon as you start noticing that your decisions don’t matter all that much everything starts to fall apart. Both Mass Effect 3 and The Walking Dead were more or less guilty of that, especially regarding their endings. Don’t give me up to three or so endings with just some cosmetic changes. Give me plenty of endings! I can’t believe with all the possibilities that gaming has to shape the experience according to your gameplay and decisions we have TWD as the great example of choice in gaming.

      I’m sure Planescape Torment and Fallout 2 were great examples of multiple paths in gaming and hopefully this will even surpass those.

    • kaffis says:

      I completely disagree. The most amazing thing to me is discussing a game with a friend and finding out about all the cool things that happened when we did stuff differently. It doesn’t happen much, though, because modern developers certainly share your view — they don’t want to work on content that doesn’t pad out the length of the game’s experience so they can say they’ve got a fifty-hour single player campaign or whatnot.

      The crucial thing that this viewpoint overlooks, for me, is that I’m *willing* to replay a game if things actually will change about the story and the world. I won’t replay the same game just to try a different class or build. But I’ll happily try a different class or build to also experience new things besides just how I fight. If that means that instead of a single fifty-hour campaign, I’m replaying a 12-hour one four or five times? Good!

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I like replaying games, and think that a game that was designed to be played played several times at 12 hours each would be ideal for me. You’ll see as I pointed out above that I don’t devalue consequence per se, I think it can be done badly and add little to the game experience, I don’t think consequences are a fundamentally good thing, they have to be done well. Add to this that many games that have diverging story arcs tend towards the 50+ hours mark which makes it difficult for me to replay and I just feel like I’m missing out on game content that I might have enjoyed.

    • oxykottin says:

      Choice has one major problem in video games, from a creation perspective…. The best analogy is “remember when you were a kid and you did 7 x 7 on a calculator then pressed =. Then your pressed = again and again until your calculator breaks. That’s what putting choice into a video game does, in terms of putting work and effort in a video game.

      • Lemming says:

        Well no, because not all choices have to have an effect on each other. Picking A or B, might affect C and D but it doesn’t necessarily have a later effect on whether I pick 1 or 2. You get me?

    • gi_ty says:

      Your ability to suspend belief must be much stronger than mine own. Personally it breaks the illusion completely in a game when I do my best to piss off or disrespect a NPC only to have the conversation loop right back to what they were going to say in the first place. Having read hundreds (perhaps even approaching a thousand) of books throughout my life many of which were fiction, circuitous dialogue in many games of the nature you are describing seems jarring and discordant. Mount and Blade comes to mind as a perfect way to do an open ended rpg with consequences that matter. Modded Skyrim can also pull of this illusion pretty well. All that being said I do understand your concern of time constraint, I too suffer from having to know all the various outcomes of any given choice. This can be alleviated (game permitting) by saving and trying them all until you get the most satisfactory result. While definitely not the most immersive option but will provide you with satisfying choice and allowing you to see for the most part what the game has to offer.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lamb Chop says:

        From the other perspective, when I know a game is shutting off content based on choice, it activates my obsessive compulsion to see as much of that content as possible and I start breaking character to optimize my content exposure on all playthroughs. Having consequential choice for me actually tends to break immersion because of the effect it has on my psyche. Granted, I still like games who have the ambition to try to include real consequence as mechanically I think it’s really interesting and linear narrative experiences are being explored much more thoroughly by the industry. I just wish I enjoyed playing branching ‘sandbox’ stories as a narrative experience and not just for the interesting systems.

        wrt walking dead, the lack of real agency was a key component of the story. it doesn’t matter what Lee does, because his choices are so limited by his situation, and that powerlessness was conveyed mechanically and thematically. If there were multiple endings that meaningfully changed the fates of the characters, it would reduce the power of his, and by extension your, helplessness.

    • Premium User Badge

      JamesTheNumberless says:

      I agree with the guy who said the second rude thing.

    • kament says:

      I agree. And I think that’s the reasoning behind not-so-nonlinear choices in some triple-A projects: they just can’t afford it. Their production value is way higher than that of middle-market Kickstarter projects as it is.

      For Witcher 2 they pretty much cut the game in half to pull their stunt off. Simply put, there is only so much content you can create within a given budget and time, and if you want to give the players real, content-changing consequences, you’ll need to divide that content beetween choices. You can’t produce it out of thin air. Unless your budget suddenly triples and you decide to delay the game to make the most of it.

      So there’s a dilemma: either you make a game with superficial reactivity, or a game with n massive changes depending on player’s choices but n times shorter from a player’s perspective. The latter is obviously perceived as risky, “waste of product”.

      That said, I’m really excited about Wasteland 2 anyway. See, much as I liked The Walking Dead, it proved to be one time thing for me. In the end, consequences of your actions in a game contribute greatly to its replayability. And I’d rather replay a game that I know has that, than buy yet another one-time-thing.

    • Drowed says:

      The problem I have with this is that this position shows a tremendous lack of vision. Sure, it’s your opinion, you have every right to have it and keep it that way. But the funny thing is precisely that the main reason to the Wasteland’s Kickstarter is exaclty to create a game with a different view from the one that people like you has.

      Seriously. I don’t say this as an offense or criticism, is a fact. You are the type of person who likes the same form of content that publishers like: it’s not necessary to have any reactivity in the game to match your deeds, it’s enough to have an illusion of choice and all is well. Obviously, to make such a game is simpler, and cheaper, too. But this limits the deep of the stories that can be told.

      While you’re thinking about the “content that is missing”, or that the game will “punish you and limits the choices you make,” you won’t realize the main point of the question: it isn’t a punishment, it’s a way to construct a narrative . Although you can feel engaged in building a false choice, if the illusion is good, on the other hand it limits how terribly that history will be built. After all, all the “false” choices need to be made in a way to compel the character to follow a certain path, hear specific words, in specific locations, whith a specific result.

      For a person who does not care about it … He will not see the difference. For those who see a game as something close to a movie where you just want to watch a cool story and feel that you’re a part of it, that illusion is enough. But if you want to want to feel that what you did was really crucial in the costruction of the world, and want to see in the history of the game how your actions have shaped what happens… This reactivity is deeply needed. Without it, the world would be empty and useless.

      The overwhelming majority of people prefer the false choices. And so, that’s why the Kickstarter even existed, so it is not necessary to please people who think like that. ;)

  18. Jimbo says:

    Fuck this game if you can’t recruit that train into your party.

  19. Tayh says:

    This game is going to be awesome. So happy I backed it.

  20. Talahar says:

    A certain games youtuber by the name of TotalBiscuit backed this game to the point of getting an NPC with his likeness into the game. To his own admission with the thought of being able to get killed by all his haters. Rock on, sir. You understand the internet.

  21. joedpa82 says:

    Shadowrun was great. It was a bit disappointing in terms of length, sidequest, loots and save mechanism but i enjoyed it nevertheless because 1. I never played shadowrun PNP (only read the sourcebook), the original game or even the xbox version but ot stills as what i imagined it to be. 2. The plot bait (how many times i’ve thought “wow,im going to get my paycheck”. 3. The price was cheap.

    The only thing it REALLY didnt scratched was my loot addiction. I understand that weapons are DNA coded but damn those goons didnt even pack a first aid kit (wonder what their mom says before they step out to work).

    I can only hope that Wasteland2 scratches it.

    Delayed, you say? I dont really care about delays, if i can wait for P. Rothfuss books i can damn well wait for this game. If there was an element missing about W2 its the base building (did they mention about people u save going to ur base to help with it?).

    • gi_ty says:

      Well hello there fellow Patrick Rothfuss fan! I must say I have never been more emotionally invested in a character (and I’ve read a lot of books) than Kvothe. How can he be such an excellent writer and just leave us hanging for years! It’s criminal I tell you. We should start a support group.

      • joedpa82 says:

        Totally agree. His books should have warnings (WARNING: CAN CAUSE ADDICTION).

        Have you read his blog about Oot and the length of writing a book? Not long but long.

        I’m afraid that i would die before i manage to read the last book (and based on the story, we can probably expect another trilogy). A tv series is also planned for the 2014 or 2015 IIRC.

    • Premium User Badge

      airknots says:

      P. Rothfuss fan here as well. Did you back the kickstarter for Torment? Just to let you know, he’s gonna be involved in the writing of one of the companions in the game.

      • joedpa82 says:

        I did backed it up but pulled away in the last minute because of a severe financial problem but i will paypal them. I won’t be surprised if Kvothe makes a cameo as a wind mage. We’ll see how P. Rothfuss fares in games writing. Hehe.

  22. joedpa82 says:

    Also, if my party member sells of good loot for beer money then that said party member should not be sad if i pumped 20 shotgun shells to his/ her/ it face.

  23. dolgion1 says:

    Everytime I remember that I backed Wasteland 2 and will have it delivered to my steam library the moment it comes out, I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. This sounds good. This is good. I can wait, because it will be worth it.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Personally I’m almost dreading it.

      If it’s as good as it seems, I’ll feel terrible for not playing it. And if it isn’t, I’ll be so sad.

  24. Cronstintein says:

    Best excuse for a delay ever. Hopefully they pull it off, it’s one of the hardest feats in gaming.
    I never played the original wasteland but as the spiritual precursor to fallout I can only hope for good things. Fallout 2 was one of my all-time favorite gaming experiences. If it’s anything like that, we have a day-one purchase coming.

  25. Crosmando says:

    The old “Hey I have a life and a girlfriend/family/job and I don’t have the time to replay an RPG multiple times to see all the content, the game must be changed!” is still being used by morons across the web huh….

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      When exactly did anyone say anything needed to be changed?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      But this is a brilliant alternative to the super long, see everything RPG. A play through may not be super long, but there is still loads of content. You can finish the game without exploring all of that content and feel satisfied (presumably) and the explorers/completionists can replay many times and have a variety of experiences. I wish more developers would have the balls to put content in their games that may never be seen by many players.

  26. Frisky Dingo says:

    Fargo is trying to destroy the world by overloading it with multiple choice robot slaughter! He’s a madman I tell you, a madman!

  27. obd2works says:

    This game is going to be awesome. So happy I backed it.
    OBD2

  28. Premium User Badge

    cpt_freakout says:

    This game is constantly pulling me towards pre-ordering! I didn’t back it when it was in KS, and I’ve been reticent to late-back it all this time, but it’s always nagging me in the back of my head whenever I read an article about it. :P

  29. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I am so glad I backed this game. Of course, the game isn’t out yet, so that may be rather premature, but it looks to be so good. So.. good!

  30. wodin says:

    Pleased I backed this. Infact so far it’s the only KS I have backed…

  31. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    Oh cool, you changed to a different screenshot than the one you’d been using for months. This one makes the game look a lot better.

  32. fenriz says:

    i went thru the article but all i read was puzzles.

    It seems we ultimately got it: fallout and deus ex were most of the times adventure games whose puzzles you could solve with skills.

    That is it. Goodness. It’s not just one way to do it, it’s like the peak of interactivity, all games must use this scheme.

  33. underwearmonster says:

    Although I do enjoy choice and reactivity, I sometimes get this fear of losing out on experiencing some great content. Partly, I think I need to bring a different set of attitudes to a game where there’s a lot of choice vs. a game where there isn’t.

    In more linear games, I generally veer towards trying to complete 100% of the game. If I bring this attitude to these more choice-y games, I’m doomed to be checking strategy guides as I play to make sure that I don’t accidentally close off some section of the game that I want access to.

    I recognize there’s some neuroses there on my part — but I also think that for me to enjoy choice and consequence in games fully, I like to be aware that THIS is a momentous decision, e.g. do I save Kaidan or Ashley? I don’t like it when it turns out some insignificant-seeming conversation turns out to close a part of the game to me.

    Dragon Age felt to me like a game that closed off my options, as opposed to allowing me to craft a unique playthrough. Mass Effect did choice well — I felt like I owned my choices and my experience. With Dragon Age, it was different — perhaps the writing wasn’t as good, but I found myself often reloading because I didn’t like how things played out.

    I think its also important for games with choice to make it apparent what the consequences of your actions are. The link between an action the player made and a consequence should be signaled somehow (subtly of course!). For example, I quite liked Kelly Chambers in ME2, and I was glad to see her on the citadel again in ME3. Later, she was killed during the Cerberus takeover of the citadel. It seemed so out of the blue! I later found out online that if I had told her to change her name, she would have survived. Only then did that consequence become meaningful to me. Before, I thought she got killed in everyone’s playthrough.

    So, while developers get the birds-eye view of the game and get to say “wow, when they make that choice all this happens, but not all that!”, they also have to bear in mind that unless they signal to the player that A) you just made a choice and B) these are the ensuing consequences, the player may just stumble on through, assuming that this is just how the game is.

    In summary, games with choice require a different approach from the player, but I also think that developers have to be smart about how they implement choice so that it enhances the game experience rather than limits it.

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