A Day With Wasteland 2

By Nathan Grayson on August 1st, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

I recently had the privilege of visiting inXile’s balmy, exceedingly pleasant beachside lair (they don’t make exiles like they used to) – at which point I of course did my best to avoid the light of day as much as possible. I was in Southern California for one reason and one reason only: to explore a festering, godforsaken bullet hole of a wasteland, and this time it wasn’t even Los Angeles. Or at least, not the real one. Wasteland 2 was the name of the game, and inXile was kind enough to show me, well, pretty much everything.

There is something profoundly wonderful about the fact that inXile – undisputed champion of Kickstarter and mischievous deity of worlds that span all realms of imagination – shares sign space with a Subway. Actually, Subway gets prime strip mall signpost billing, resting comfortably atop inXile’s jagged letters like Joffrey lounging in the Iron Throne. When I first strolled into the sun-boiled parking lot, I didn’t even notice inXile’s spot on the lineup at all. I bet CITI DONUT and Salon Island Nails do great business, though.

The whole scene was just perfect. In retrospect, I have to chuckle.

Not so long ago, inXile was very nearly dead to the outside world. Hunted: Demon’s Forge brewed nothing but steaming contempt in the guts of those who played it, and resulting cost cuts forced the once-proud company to shrink from 60 employees to around 15. Huddled in a single, cluttered office where once its oceanfront empire spanned three, it all seemed a bit like, well, the end of the world. And of course, the only remnant of civilization was a proudly posed Subway sandwich shop – a grimy chain held together by America’s love affair with both belt size vanity and festering unhealth. It would be.

Times have, of course, changed, but inXile’s office is still tiny, cluttered, and cramped. Life imitates art, I suppose, and the heart of Wasteland 2′s operation resembled the very sort of starving pit of industry one might stumble across in games like Fallout or the original Wasteland. Just, you know, with more people in it. If there was a surface, it was strewn with cups, papers, hastily scrawled notes, and maps of lands both real and fictional. Walls looked like they were suffocating, and there was a Guitar Hero guitar hanging from the ceiling for some reason. Dim morning light crept in where it could, prowling between papers, PCs, and replica Fallout power armor helmets alike.

inXile head Brian Fargo looked downright giddy. Suddenly, I no longer wondered where the sun was hiding given that I was pretty sure he ate it. But despite everything else, this was the moment of truth, and Fargo knew he and his team were ready.

In The Beginning…

Wasteland 2 begins with the “retirement party” of a Wasteland 1 Ranger named Ace. But it’s a joke, you see. The punchline is that Ace is dead. Welcome to the Wasteland.

It’s here that you’re handed your first Ranger mission: investigate some seriously creepy radio signals that are clogging the airwaves all throughout your parched paradise of a homeland. Here, Fargo and co briefly demonstrate the ever-controversial keyword-based dialogue system. Now, when you mouse over a keyword, you actually get a readout of what your Ranger will say, thus preventing Commander Shepard/Cole Phelps-style rage explosions when you were just wondering where to find the little Scorpitron’s room. It still wasn’t the most elegant-looking solution ever, but it got the job done. Plus, inXile promised that most of the interface – admittedly rather clunky looking – was still placeholder. A few mock-ups of newer versions looked much cleaner.

And so, we set off. Our first stop: a prison in Arizona that once served as Wasteland 1′s Ranger Citadel. Long since abandoned, it instead played host to all sorts of greedy gangs. Naturally, one, the Red Skorpion Militia, wanted to “tax” our intrepid four-person law enforcement party for, er, carrying guns, because… look this is a robbery, alright? Do they really need a good reason? Combat followed shortly thereafter. Without missing a beat, the world went turn-based – just like in the ’90s, before seamlessly flowing time was invented. At its most basic, the quick, painfully lopsided skirmish played out like a very simple XCOM battle, except with less cover and even more overpowered sniper rifles. Colored grid regions indicated range (green = very little chance of missing, yellow = mid-range, red = long shot) and it wasn’t long before the bandits had a change of heart and politely died. It was, however, extremely basic. Almost worrisomely so.

For combat, however, that is only the very, very, very, very, very, very, very tip of the iceberg. The opening areas mostly consisted of melee enemies and flat lands without even the thinnest slabs of cover to hide their shame, but complexity emerged in fairly short order. I witnessed another, still very unfinished area with plenty of cover and enemies that flanked, sniped, and generally proved quite adept at making dangerously fatal nuisances of themselves. That, said inXile, is actually just the baseline.

“We wanted to make sure that we were able to craft encounters,” explained project lead Chris Keenan. “A lot of the RPGs that we were playing, they had a basic AI set on them, and they just did that. Run to player, shoot, generally stand back this far. We want to try to make sure that we’re getting interesting behaviors with these guys as far as flanking opportunities that they can see. Actively using height to their advantage. Working in groups. Sending two guys around one way and one guy around the other way.”

“There’s plenty of cover in the game, but it doesn’t feel manufactured,” added Fargo. “It feels more natural, like part of the environment. There are areas where there’s no cover and areas where there’s lots of cover. We’ll take that into account as we balance the game. We may give you a lot more enemies in areas where there’s a lot of cover, behind the scenes. Or there’s going to be snipers up on the roof, because we deal with height and distance as well, thanks to a modified Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes rule set – kind of like the original Wasteland. So that might affect where we could make cover available.”

“Another part of this, too, is that while you’re in combat there, you can still use your [typically non-combat-related] skills,” said Keenan. “If there were locked doors over on this side, you could drop bombs and use demolition skills. You could go unlock an area, which might take you to a little corridor that takes you up a ladder, and now you have a nice position behind another guy who’s up on the roof shooting down at you. He doesn’t notice you behind him.”

Of Course There’s A Toaster Repair Skill

Skills are everywhere in Wasteland 2. They are its protruding backbone, and you absolutely must choose them wisely. The system heavily ties into the extreme levels of reactivity and choice inXile is in the process of honing, on both micro and macro levels. For example, a traveling salesman needed assistance moving his merchandise out of a ditch. Brute force was the obvious solution, and it got us reduced prices for our troubles. Hurrah! But we also could’ve possibly talked him down to that price point – no miserable peasant labor involved – or dug deeper into a roster of 32 possible skill types for some other option. The only problem? All I saw were very early, fairly basic skills. inXile told me that things get markedly more interesting as time goes on, but that remains to be seen.

For now, though, here’s every last skill type you’ll have at your disposal – along with handy descriptions of the less obvious ones from project lead Chris Keenan:

  • Blunt Weapons
  • Bladed Weapons
  • Anti-Tank-Weapons
  • SMG
  • Shotguns
  • Energy Weapons
  • Assault Rifles
  • Sniper Rifle
  • Handguns
  • Picklock
  • Safecrack
  • Alarm Disarm
  • Toaster Repair – “People put a lot of shit in toasters. You repair them and you get a little ‘Ping!’ Out pops something good. It’s a big callback to the original Wasteland.”
  • Computer Tech – “That one allows you to hack various computers and have different things happen. It may turn on a robot that now fights for you. It may turn on a security camera that you can see different areas through. Maybe it’ll open a vent to solve a puzzle or something that way.”
  • Synth Tech – “Synth Tech is turning a robot on to your side in combat, or you can use it if there’s a downed robot that you want to repair and turn him on to your team.”
  • Demolitions – “Break down big doors. Use it in combat as well.”
  • Brute Force – “Kind of the same thing, but a little bit less reliant on money. You don’t have to purchase or find demolitions. But it’s also not as impactful for blowing down the big things.”
  • Silent Move – “Stealth.”
  • Salvaging – “Salvaging is kind of a looting mechanic. If you’re running around the world and I’m collecting a bunch of stuff with my guys, and I don’t like the kind of normal game mechanic of running back to a store and selling my stuff, I can salvage it right there on the spot.”
  • Kiss Ass, Hard Ass, and Smart Ass – “Those are some temp names for conversation, different ways of dealing with people in conversations.”
  • Outdoorsman – “You can use that on the world map. We have a water mechanic out there where you have to be able to fill your canteens to get over certain amounts of distance. It allows you to mitigate that a little bit, and also start to spot some of the random encounters that happen on the world map.”
  • Evasion – “Pretty much what it sounds like.”
  • Leadership – “How much the NPCs will listen to you. That one is a competing skill. You also get a little area of effect buff to your team. If they’re around the leader, they tend to do a little bit better, if they’re within a tight proximity. If there’s two leaders on the team above a certain level, then it turns out to be a negative. There’s bickering. Too many chiefs on the team. So you have to keep them away from each other in combat.”
  • Cliff Calvin Backer Skill – “We just made that a quirky world knowledge skill, because players didn’t want it affecting gameplay directly. As you go through different areas, you’re going to be able to pick up really interesting stories and things happening around you that other people might not.”
  • Animal Whisperer – “My favorite laughable skill in the game is Animal Whisperer. You basically can go talk to specific animal types. Like if you’re in combat with a wolf or something, you can have them run away from combat. But there are cats and dogs and goats and all that. You can lure them to follow you. They’ll just be little pets that follow you around.”
  • Field Medic and Surgeon – “Field Medics are the guys who are going to do a little more of the initial healing on you. They feel a little more comfortable on the battlefield. When you get to the Surgeons, they are not great in combat scenarios, but what they can do well is, if you have some sort of a status effect on you – if you’re poisoned by something – they can work to remove that.”
  • Weapon Smithing and Field Stripping – “We have a little crafting system with Weaponsmithing, where if you find weapons within the game, you can use a Fieldstripping skill on it, break it down into parts, and have a chance to find a better scope, buttstock, different things that will affect your weapons. So you can mod your weapons a little bit too as you go along, and continue to build up the current weapon that you have.”
  • Perception – “Perception is both passive and active. Each character has their own perception spheres. As you build it up, there’s a small perception zone around the character that also changes based on their movement speeds. If I’m running, I don’t have a whole lot of chance to look around and understand my environment. If I go to walking, that perception sphere builds out a little bit. If I’m in stealth, it’s much bigger. It represents you walking around and carefully examining all the objects.”
  • Combat Shooting – “Combat Shooting was in the original Wasteland, and it was actually something that didn’t do anything. Everybody thought it was going to be an awesome skill. It sounds great. But it had no effect whatsoever in there. In our game it’s going to be the most overpowered skill that you find. You’re going to get it near the tail end of the game. You hear the myth of Combat Shooting. Nobody knows what it really is.”

My big concern is that many of these sound like they could end up redundant or overly convoluted. Demolitions and Brute Force, for instance, seem to be eyeing each other disdainfully while waiting in the hall for their respective job interviews. Who knows, though? Much of the charm of older RPGs stemmed from entirely pointless, seemingly redundant additions. Sometimes screaming madness breeds a very specific brand of charm. Sometimes.

Of Devils And Details (And Pigs)

“Oh, that was a mine,” said inXile president Matt Findley as our party exploded.

He’d been tasked with an early side quest to rescue some pigs for a farmer near the Arizona prison, and he decided to take the opportunity to show just how unpredictable Wasteland’s salt-in-your-wounds, spit-in-your-eyes world can be. OK, actually he was trying to demonstrate the way skills double dip both in and outside of combat, but an eagle-eyed perception stat is only so useful if you still manage to absent-mindedly skip into a minefield instead of disarming it.

But even as the scent of flash-fried torso still clung to the air like a desperate lover, Findley and co were launching into a tangentially related story. That quickly became one of my favorite qualities of Wasteland 2: no matter how inconsequential the feature (or, in this case, goofy gaffe), it tied into some insane detail. Some mad level of substance that oozed out of the game’s every pore. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, and that’s a damn shame.

“If you rescue the pigs and you’ve already seen the minefield and you lead them towards that area, they’re going to go running thorough the minefield,” Keenan chuckled. “You’ll lose quite a few on the way out of there.”

Because of course they would. They’re pigs, for goodness’ sake. Known for being admirably delicious and reliant on spiders for sage advice, sure, but not so much for intelligence. Still though, I point out that such erratic behavior could be frustrating for players, seeing as most games would at least give you some warning other than, well, common sense. But in Wasteland 2, that’s kind of the point. It’s a world first and a gentle, hand-hold-y game second. Use your head. Otherwise, this world will explode it like a blood sausage.

“It’s going to be clear that there’s a minefield right there, and if you take the pigs this way, then you made the decision to walk through the minefield with the pigs. If they blew up, that’s your choice, and we’re not going to pander [just to avoid frustration],” said Keenan.

“If things make sense in a real-world sense, I don’t think people give too much flak for it not being game-y enough,” added Fargo. “I think keeping the world sense together is the most important thing we can be doing.”

And the farmer that set us on this damnable, explosion-prone path in the first place? Well, he’s no saint. If you happen to return his pigs without talking to him beforehand, he’ll just spurn your attempts to claim a reward. After all, he’s never seen you in his life. What reason does he have to believe you rescued his livestock-shaped livelihood? Maybe they just came back on their own, and where do you get off demanding a reward anyway?

If I were in his shoes, I can’t say I wouldn’t feel the same way.

(Definitely Not) Just Deserts

Our journey continued into distant lands. The pleasantly named Killing Fields were a giant-maggot-infested corpse of a land, every imaginable shade of green and sick with swamp muck. Almost certainly poisonous vines snaked up ruined buildings, nature reclaiming a place that belonged to it all along. Still though, the buildings made for solid (not to mention essential) cover.

Demanta was another highlight, though I only got a brief tour. Based on the real-world Davis-Monthan Air Force Base outside Tucson, Arizona, it was a graveyard of plane scrap – a ramshackle civilization built on broken American dreams. inXile explained that it’s robot turf, but we didn’t delve deeply enough to run across any. Also, I don’t think they’d been implemented yet.

Locations looked open enough, though not quite as free-roaming as, say, Bethesda’s take on Fallout. There was, however, heaps more variety to the proceedings, and – as with everything else I saw – inXile claimed it was only just the beginning.

“What’s going to be great is, you’re going to be in Arizona for about the first half or third of the game,” explained Findley. “Then you fly to Los Angeles. Not everything is just a desert. Especially when you get to LA. This is more foreshadowing of levels to come.”.

“The original took place in Arizona, right? They had Las Vegas in there, and Needles and a couple of other places. We knew we were going to LA as well, and we just started breaking down, what are the coolest places we could take people to? The La Brea tar pits? Awesome. The Coliseum? Awesome,” Keenan grinned.

Control The Airwaves, Control The World

In Wasteland 2, your radio is your best friend. It’s also your window into a world you’ll probably end up wanting to pretend just doesn’t exist. inXile ended my demo with some downright disturbing radio samples, which it said will eventually serve the manifold purpose of cluing me in to nearby side missions and worming a finger into my ear for a particularly atmospheric wet willy. The latter is especially important in light of the fact that Wasteland 2 has very little voiced dialogue. Radio chatter, then, fills otherwise dead air, making the world feel much more alive.

Immediately after the Arizona prison area, players will apparently receive two cries for assistance at the same time. Rushing to the aid of one will forfeit the other, and so on. Pretty standard stuff. But then there are other, more unique sorts of signals, like a woman who just wants her husband to come home so she can, er, die.

“Please come back,” she sobbed. “I don’t want to die alone. I can’t take the pain any longer. Elroy. Oh, Elroy. Elroy… Elroy. I’m sorry. I couldn’t do it. I tried, but I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t have the strength. I don’t want to die alone. Please come home to me. I don’t care if you found the medicine or not. Just come home and help me die. I can’t do it without you. I can’t.”

And then she started singing Amazing Grace.

You’ll be able to go find her, too. If a character exists on the radio, odds are, they’re an actual NPC in the game world. As for what you’ll do when you meet these these static-hazed electronic souls face-to-face, well, that’s up to you.

Miss Manners’ Guide To Excruciatingly Correct Behavior

If inXile’s word holds true, factions may well be the best part of Wasteland 2. There are so very many, and they all sound wildly silly. One worships Ronald Reagan. Another, called the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud, holds religious reverence for radiation. Members often attack by rigging a detonator, running up to their foes, and holding out their arms as though ready to receive an embrace from some wonderful deity. One tiny mushroom cloud later, they’ve gained a distinctly more intimate knowledge of their “maker”.

The Mannerites and the Robbinsons, however, take things to a place so outrageously, specifically wacky that I seriously cannot wait to meet them. They’re competing cults that have formed around, er, self-help programs.

“The Mannerites are a group headquartered in the Coliseum in Los Angeles,” said Findley. “They’ve found this book: The ‘Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior’. They made it their Bible. Good manners, in a post-apocalyptic wasteland setting, are the most important thing to them. They think, how can we be civilized? How can we bring back civilization except by being civilized? So that’s why they think that this is of paramount importance. Anything that goes wrong, like spitting in the streets or whatever, they see that as just a slippery slope down to complete chaos. It could be the wrong salad fork.”

“When you get into the level, there’s a Mannerite who’s up for execution for violating Mannerite law. The crime that he committed was coming to church in dirty clothes. That’s a capital offense. That leads to a whole thing about whether you save him or not and what that means. Do you save him, because that’s a stupid reason to kill somebody? And then violate their rules and make them hostile to you?”

The Robbinsons, meanwhile, worship Tony Robbins Personal Power program. Also, the Mannerites? Cannibals. Naturally.

“You can maybe tell that we don’t necessarily take ourselves too seriously,” laughed Keenan.

“It is entertainment,” added Fargo. “We’re trying to entertain ourselves. If it cracks us up, we think it’ll probably crack our players up too.”

The Wait For Red October

Sounds quite a bit like the way these sorts of games got made in The Good Old Days, no? It’s an old-school mentality given attractive, hyper-reactive form, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tremendously excited by the possibilities. inXile’s working with a strong foundation, certainly. And yet, while I saw a fair deal, but there was still tons that wasn’t ready for primetime.

Admittedly, that in itself is a bit worrisome given an impending beta date of October, but the passion and ideas certainly seem to be in place – and inXile says that a feature complete version of the full game is only a few weeks out. All that’s left is to stitch together all the wires without blowing the whole thing sky high. Easier said than done, right?

But Fargo and co have quite literally buried their office under this game, and they seem to be loving every second of it. That’s not necessarily a guarantee of quality, but optimism is an infectious disease. inXile seems bound and determined to dig itself out of a pile of its own ashes, and it really couldn’t have picked a much better place to start.

On my way out of the office, I pointed out the Subway sign so clearly trying to steal inXile’s thunder. Fargo just smiled. He smiled a lot that day.

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96 Comments »

Top comments

  1. Meat Circus says:

    There’s still time to reimagine it into an FPS, Brian.

  1. iucounu says:

    This sounds amazing.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    There’s still time to reimagine it into an FPS, Brian.

    • guygodbois00 says:

      Haha. +1 this comment.

    • Alexander says:

      Third-person action stealth with QTEs please.

    • belgand says:

      I’m holding out for the social, F2P FB/mobile game.

    • Ham Solo says:

      And add lots of DLC and micro transactions pls. And always-online DRM. And port it to consoles and then a year later back to PC with shit controls and poor optimization pls.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        I wish you guys wouldn’t joke about this. With the follow-the-leader mentality in the game industry, and a lack of imagination across the board, I’m not sure developers’ sarcasm-detectors are working reliably.

        There’s probably a team meeting going on right now where they’re saying, “They want F2P third-person stealth shooters with QTEs over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I told you that’s where the industry’s going. Let’s get on that RIGHT NOW!!”

        • The Random One says:

          Your error is assuming the videogame industry is a single homogenical mass. What you posted is not developer talk, it’s publisher talk. And this game, being crowdfunded, has no publisher.

        • belgand says:

          The fatal error there is you assume that they’re listening to what people say. They are not. As usual the publishers are just paying attention to what is making money. That is the only metric of sucess that they care about. Metacritic score? Sure, if it’s good (or bad and you don’t have to pay bonuses), but do they honestly care if the score is bad and it sells boatloads? Or amazing and it sells poorly?

          It’s a classic case of “vote with your wallet” and not just because of crowd-funding.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      Ahaha, and rename it WASTELA2D.

    • fartingstranger says:

      And make graphics shit brown please.

  3. Anthile says:

    My body is ready.

  4. guygodbois00 says:

    Take your time, Fargo and Co, but deliver something of the Fallout caliber, please.

  5. Jim Rossignol says:

    Golden era.

    Games are just beginning.

    I am having so much fun right now.

    • guygodbois00 says:

      You, sir, are not allowed to have fun. Not until that hunting business is finished, at least.

    • Alexander says:

      Sir, you are being funned.

      • Prime says:

        No!

        ”Sir, You are Being Funded’! Kickstarter, geddit? Amirite?

        …I’ll get my coat.

        • Alexander says:

          The “funded” joke was old, I think.
          *gives coat* I already have mine.

    • RedViv says:

      Aye. It’s a baby medium, despite people bringing Big Grown-Up money into it.

      • The Random One says:

        It’s no surprise then that most of the Big Stuff our medium puts out looks like what would happen if you gave ten million dollars to a five-year-old…

    • The Ultimate Clone of The Ultimate Warrior says:

      FUN IS THE MIND KILLER. FILL YOUR ORGANS WITH DESTRUCITY FOR A CLEARER OUTLOOK ON LOADING SPACESHIPS WITH APPLE JUICE!

    • Prime says:

      “Golden era. Games are just beginning. I am having so much fun right now.”

      Jim, this is EXACTLY how I feel about the Kickstarter revolution. It’s like the ghost of gaming past has returned ready to show the insipid present how glorious the future can be. Games like this excite me in ways I haven’t felt since the 80s or 90s. I love that games can still be made in ways that promise living, breathing entities capable of still surprising you months after you first played them, unlike modern gaming’s bullet-point lists of EXCITING FEATURES so shallow you exhaust them within days.

      This is truly a golden age.

      • apocraphyn says:

        I feel the same way. I think a lot of people feel the same way, and that’s partly the reason why so many game-related Kickstarter projects have been successful. There’s a lot of criticism over people funding nostalgia rather than going for innovative products, but we’re essentially reviving the ‘golden era’ of PC gaming of the late 90s and early 00s – or at least buying into the promise of such a notion.

        I remember watching Interplay fall to pieces, witnessing the downfall of Black Isle, becoming fairly distraught upon hearing the news that the third Fallout game was going to become a first person shooter – something so far apart from the original two games that it sounded as if it was going to be a different beast entirely. And that’s barely scratching the surface – there’s so much from that time that’s been ‘lost’, so to speak.

        As someone who felt that brief period created some of the best games ever made and someone who believes that period really never should have ended, I am absolutely thrilled that we’re finally able to help bring these projects about. It may just be a promise – you know what they say about the proof being in the pudding and all that – but it’s a bloody appealing one and I’ll be damned if I don’t support them.

  6. iucounu says:

    (Also, there’s an interesting typo from somewhere – the skill is the ‘Cliff Clavin’ skill, from the Cheers character. It’s interesting because ‘Cliff Clavin’ is a funny name, but the only-very-slightly-different ‘Cliff Calvin’ isn’t remotely funny.)

    • Jason Moyer says:

      A “Cliff Clavin” skill that gives you completely unnecessary information on the environment is actually pretty damn funny.

  7. Crosmando says:

    I disagree about the redundant thing with Brute Force and Demolitions, for one Brute Force is meant to be a skill replacement for using Strength (the attribute) as a skill in the original, you could directly use a characters’ Strength attribute to knock down a door for example. They wanted to preserve this, so they just made it a skill, Brute Force, which is checked with Strength.

    Demolitions on the other hand will probably check another attribute like Intelligence. So the purpose is probably so the player can make a dumb brute who kicks down doors, or a smart engineer who blows them up.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      Sounds very reasonable!

    • Nidokoenig says:

      I could also see it doing interesting things at higher levels, like Brute Force can be used more intelligently at higher skill levels to reduce noise, and Demolitions clear larger holes per unit of explosive or reduce debris to gravel or powder, negating any movement penalty for uneven ground.

  8. RedViv says:

    This article broke my excite-o-meter. And I had just adjusted it to go up to thirteen!

    • zain3000 says:

      Excite-o-meters go to thirteen?! And here I have been languishing at eleven this whole time.

      • RedViv says:

        See that’s why it’s such a bother, I just had it custom-fitted for my purposes!

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          I have an excite-o-meter that goes up to 4, and everything past that is ungentlemanly.

          • RedViv says:

            Hah, that’s the nonsense the glorious Druidic Revolution of 1908 freed us from. Good riddance!

          • Lars Westergren says:

            When in danger of excitement, always keep a bottle of genuine Lord Custard Smingleigh Smelling Salts nearby.

          • Bull0 says:

            Smingleigh’s: Preserving the calm dignity of the Empire since 1914

  9. flang says:

    How do you NOT get a picture of the replica Fallout helmet. Seriously?

  10. S Jay says:

    When is it supposed to come out?

    • Crosmando says:

      Beta: October
      Full Release: ???? (Maybe by Christmas)

      • Supahewok says:

        Last thing that I think I heard was a release in January. Wouldn’t surprise me if it and the beta were both put off by a month though, there seems to be a lot they have yet to tie together.

  11. cdx00 says:

    Loved reading this. I live right down the road from id Software, those guys (Carmack included) were nice enough to let me come in and tour around a bit. They even signed my archaic copy of DooM 3! Shortly after, they all sped away in their Audi’s and Ferrari’s. Siiiigh.

  12. squareking says:

    Really the only word that conveys my feelings right now is squee.

  13. Ahkey says:

    The Robbinsons, meanwhile, worship Tony Robbins Personal Power program.

    We know who they really worship: http://goo.gl/f5kswn

  14. lasikbear says:

    But how was CITI DONUT??

  15. Fumarole says:

    This game better be pretty rad.

    • Prime says:

      I don’t want to fallout about this, but armageddon sick of all these pun threads. Time for something new, clear?

  16. Michael Fogg says:

    Is that Kane? Or Lynch?

  17. Upper Class Twit says:

    Looks pretty cool. But some of those skills strike me as “old school” in a really not fun way. Seriously, you’ve got SMG, shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, handgun; five different skills for five different types of weapons that all pretty much do the same thing. Seems needlessly limiting, and it doesn’t even make sense. Maybe if they separated it into long guns and short guns, or close range shooting and long range shooting; or would that just make it too “dumbed down”?

    I really don’t get the appeal of this sort of thing. Its like how Baldur’s Gate had separate skills for staves, spears, and halberds.

    • Crosmando says:

      “five different types of weapons that all pretty much do the same thing”
      Ehhhh, so because guns all shoot bullets they are “pretty much the same thing” now? Have you considered that all those types of guns might be different in the game, requiring different types of tactics?

      • F3ck says:

        Obviously handguns and rifles would be different skills (I’ve met plenty who were good with one yet shit with the other) but are you telling me that you could max-out your assault rifle skill and still not be able to fire an smg for shit? Because that would be silly.

        • jonahcutter says:

          Depends upon the weapons. Many assault rifles are semi-auto only, or are rarely used in full-auto. They can be far bigger, heavier and unwieldy than an smg. SMGs are generally capable of full auto.

          SMGs generally fire pistol calibers, while ARs fire rounds that typically have a much higher velocity. Getting into the bigger calibers, some standard AR rounds can penetrate even steel plate.

          Some examples of both can be similar. But a lot of them are very different.

        • Doomsayer says:

          It’s probably a little late for suggestions, but maybe increasing your skill for Rifles would slightly increase your skill for SMGs? Or maybe having Rifles high would let you increase SMG faster.

          • Strangerator says:

            In games with tons of skills like this I’ve always liked the idea of mastery skills. Basically in this case you’d call it “small arms mastery.” Say I have 100 points in assault rifles, but I never increased any other small guns past their starting values. My small arms mastery skill might be somewhere around 10, meaning I have a +10 to all small arms weapon skills. So then at least some of that knowledge of assault rifles is helping with everything else.

            On the flip side, spreading some more training into other guns will increase my small arms mastery. In this way, I could improve upon my seemingly maxed out 100 in assault rifles by continually increasing the mastery skill.

          • Grey Poupon says:

            It’s odd that people are fine with different classes being able to use different weapons, but weapon skills for different weapons aren’t ok. I actually greatly prefer the latter. I like customizing my characters and making up the roles myself.

      • Upper Class Twit says:

        Obviously shooting an assault rifle is a good bit different from shooting an SMG, but I still think they’re close enough to put them into some kind of “two handed guns” or “automatic guns” (depending on whether they make assault rifles automatic like in movies or single fire like in real life), you know, kind of like what they did for the melee weapons. Cause if you’re going to make that kind of distinction, you might as well have separate categories for knives, machetes, baseball bats, hammers, tire irons, etc.

        • Strangerator says:

          That’s an advantage of the melee weapons. To be good at every gun, you’d need to pump 5 skills, for melee only 2.

    • jonahcutter says:

      I think if you talked to an expert in those types of weapons, they would tell you that they all take very distinct skills to use well.

      • Upper Class Twit says:

        I bet they would, but what I’m wondering is, how does applying that distinction to in-game skills make the game more fun, or enjoyable, or interesting. As it stands, I retract my statement about it not making sense, but I still don’t get what that kind of complexity adds to a turn-based RPG.

        • Strangerator says:

          It causes you to make more finely detailed decisions about each of your guys’ skills. Do I want to to be a true specialist in one type of gun, ignoring all others? Modern game thinking tells us this is always the right move, because ammo is plentiful, and gun upgrades evenly distributed. There is essentially no punishment for being over-specialized.

          But maybe this game is going to be “old school” enough that you might run out of SMG ammo quickly (since they do spit bullets quite quickly) and being able to fall back on another weapon would be useful. A pure SMG specialist would run out of ammo and be all but useless with other weapons.

          So if done right, both specialization and diversification have their pros and cons. This was a matter for consideration in the golden olden days, compared to more modern games where you’d have a “Guns” skill, which you would simply max out asap (no thought required).

    • Supahewok says:

      Just FYI, there is a huge difference in how you actually wield staves, spears, and halberds. You can’t twirl a halberd with its big metal head like you can a staff. And you can’t slash and whack with a spear. Just cuz they all have a big stick in common does not mean you can use them in the same manner, although they do have more in common with which other than with, say, a sword.

      • Strangerator says:

        Yeah, medieval weaponry required a lot more training than modern weapons, and wielding any weapon effectively required specialized practice and dedication. At least, back when your opponent would be wielding the same type of weapon and probably armor, training was essential. In Wasteland’s world, you just gotta smack the mutated scorpion or gun toting manner-obsessed cannibal down before they kill you, which is why the blunt/blade breakdown works for the setting.

    • Bull0 says:

      That’s definitely the kind of sensible design decision that would see you accused of dumbing down by certain folk in these here parts.

  18. SgtStens says:

    Reading this makes me tingle where my bathing suit covers. I am a fan of all post-apocalyptic things, namely all the Fallouts, etc. I remember the original Wasteland, along with Bard’s Tale/Wizardry, but I found the learning curve a bit too steep back then (I was in elementary school at the time) and eventually moved on to other turn-based RPG’s like the AD&D Gold Box games (which I still play and enjoy). Is it worth going back and playing the original? I am a bit spoiled with current-day luxuries like journals, fast travel and waypoints, but I’ve been playing Avernum thanks to the Spiderweb Humble Bundle and enjoying the old-schoolyness of it.

    I’ve been dipping back into some nostalgia-laden games like Arcanum and been disappointed (great innovation and writing, but painful execution). Any advice from the peanut gallery?

    • TimEatsApples says:

      I played the original Wasteland for the first time about three years ago. It’s excellent in a lot of ways but the learning curve is very steep. You have to use keystrokes to input a lot of commands. I ended up using a walkthrough for the first area, to get the hang of the systems and how I was supposed to interact with the environment. After that I got a lot out of it. Also note that you need to download the paragraph book that came with the game as a lot of the longer text couldn’t fit on the screen at the time. It’ll take a bit of effort to get to grips with things but I do recommend playing it, especially as I expect the new one to be filled with in-jokes and references.

    • Prime says:

      Salted are classic, chilli or honey coated are there for the experimental but you can’t beat the classic Dry-Roasted, imo.

  19. Kasper says:

    “Because of course they would. They’re pigs, for goodness’ sake. Known for being admirably delicious and reliant on spiders for sage advice, sure, but not so much for intelligence.”

    Actually, they are. Pigs are highly intelligent animals.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Not intelligent enough not to be made of tasty, tasty pork products.

      • The Random One says:

        I’ve heard that, according to cannibals, human meat tastes like pork. Maybe that’s the flavour of intelligence…

    • Lemming says:

      intelligent enough to read a sign warning them of a mine field?

      • bill says:

        No. But intelligent enough to learn from seeing other pigs get blown up and not go there.

        • Prime says:

          We’ve all seen Babe, right? That’s one smart mother-f*cking pig right there, who seemed more than capable of disregarding his own faeces.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Even if they weren’t scientifically regarded as intelligent I’d have thought that *the* anthropomorphization of pigs was Orwell and not E. B. White – i.e. whether or not they really are intelligent, they’re immortalized in literature as the cleverest barnyard animals in Animal Farm.

    • Squirly says:

      I knew some know–it-all would pop in with ye olde “pigs are really smart yo” comment.

      Yes, they are smarter than the average domestic animal, but for pete’s sake do we care when it comes to deciding if they can judge the dangers of a minefield in a game like Wasteland?

      • Josh W says:

        If you know pigs at all, it’s a little odd, like having dogs in a game run around and blow up in the minefield. Chickens, now they would go for it instantly!

        On the other hand, stupid pigs are funny, and pigs are big enough to make explosions impressive, so it works.

  20. Baines says:

    I didn’t have steaming contempt for Hunted: Demon’s Forge. I played the demo and decided “Hrm, I might buy this when it is down to a quarter the asking price.” and then promptly forgot the game existed.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Reminds me of my reaction to Dungeon Siege III. Interesting that both Hunted and DS3 came out around the same time, provoked roughly the same reaction, and ended up putting Obsidian and inXile – both composed of ex-Interplay RPG developers – on the road to their respective Kickstarter successes.

      • Infinitron says:

        The similarity doesn’t run that deep. DS3 was actually considered a satisfying commercial success for its publisher due to being very low budget. I don’t believe Hunted was very successful.

        In terms of being an all-around embarrassing fuckup, both critically and commercially, Alpha Protocol comes closer. Although unlike Alpha Protocol, Hunted is no cult classic.

    • belgand says:

      I can’t forget about it because they gave me a t-shirt for it at PAX.

  21. Engonge says:

    I love games with no definitive success formula.

    • Prime says:

      Nostalgia + 80s + Kickstarter – Soulless Corporate Accounts-led Game Development = Win?

  22. ffordesoon says:

    So excited for this. What I really love is the idea of not being relentlessly fucking “game-y.” Every AAA RPG developer except perhaps CD Projekt is so annoyingly focused on shoveling FUNFUNFUN at the player that you stop feeling like you’re in a cohesive world.

    • jrodman says:

      Do you have any interest in fleshing this out a bit, over a few paragraphs or so, or linking to something that talks about this point? I’m not sure I get it, but I’m intrigued.

      • Xantonze says:

        Bioshock Infinite: nice world, made to be believable in its sort of wacky way. Splice superpowers straight from Bioshock 1 “because it’s fun” even if they don’t make sense here, hide ammo and oranges in every trash can, including those in the beggar’s level where everybody’s complaining that they’re so poor and hungry… the list goes on. How to destroy a carefully build world with “Gamey” “funny” stuff.

  23. The Random One says:

    I remember that when the keywords were first unveiled to backers I wrote a comment on Kickstarter suggesting they use tooltip text to expand the keywords into the full dialogue. Obviously I’m not saying I’m the one who is to be credited with that idea, I’m saying that complaining about its implementation sullies my family’s honour. Pistols at dawn, sire.

  24. bstard says:

    Interesting project. Although I always have to think with these mad-maxey-fall-outey settings: what if you get an itch, lets say in some private region, how you solve that? All that armour and dust and you don’t ever see a shower around the place.

    • arisian says:

      Yeah, but the real problem with basically every “post-apocalyptic” game (or film, or TV show, for that matter) I’ve ever seen is what the hell do they all eat? I mean, leftover canned goods will last for a while, but decades? Even if there were any canned goods still left, they wouldn’t be edible; that stuff lasts for a few years, but certainly not forever (if you’re lucky, it just turns to disgusting goop; if you’re unlucky the goop contains botulism).

      Even when there are “farms” in these games (and often they don’t even bother), they always wind up looking big enough to feed maybe a few dozen people, and that’s assuming things like plows and harrows and draft animals and irrigation (all of which tend to be absent; also, settings tend to be desert-like, making this even harder). And that’s not to mention the fact that (based on how many I see and/or kill) “bandits” and “raiders” (i.e. those who take food rather than growing it) seem to outnumber “civilized” town-dwellers by an absurd ratio. Who the heck are they raiding? If they’re all raiding that one town, then either the bandits or the townies (or, more likely, both) would starve to death in about two weeks.

  25. Don Reba says:

    Step 1. CHINA KITCHEN
    Step 2. SUBWAY
    Step 3. ???
    Step 4. Capital Benefit!

  26. ODCS says:

    So it looks like the first character I make will be a female named Lilpip and I will be putting every last skill point available into toaster repair. Perfect :3

  27. Shooop says:

    I don’t like turn-based combat systems, but I like in-game decisions that mean something a whole lot more than I dislike turn-based combat.

    I’m intrigued.

  28. joedpa82 says:

    Will this game scratch my lootnload itch? Sure hope it does, otherwise i’ll have to play fallout for the umpteenth ten.

  29. Contrafibularity says:

    Actually pigs are much more clever than you think Mr. Grayson, they’re remarkably social and curious animals. It could be said even the smartest of pigs would definitely not expect a hidden landmine to explode it into a million bits, though. Unless they’re warthogs of course.

  30. Audiocide says:

    Wow, another dig at *fat Americans*! Now, that’s a fresh one!