Death Trash Is A Grimier, Scarier, Nastier Fallout

Death Trash [official site] might be the Fallout game for people who wish Bethesda’s post-nuclear world were a whole lot grimier, scarier, and swearier. I’ve been following development for a while but a couple of nights ago I had a nightmare featuring images from the devblog and that means it’s probably time to bring the post-apocalyptic RPG to your attention. It’s a game in which giant bleeding heads make dire predictions, Lovecraftian entities lurk beneath the surface and in which “Fuck off” seems to be a common dialogue option.

Just about all of the images – several of which are animated – at the blog are good enough to maintain my interest in the game. It’s a grotesque setting, packed with radioactive body horror and conversations about shit and blood. Whether that’ll translate into gross-out sniggers and a grubbily believable pisspunk fantasy isn’t clear – the whole thing could still be charmless and grating – but I’m happy to see something that deviates from the too-clean aftermaths that I’m becoming accustomed to.

Death Trash is appealingly nasty and anxious, like Barry Godber’s artwork for the Court of the Crimson King, but with extra snot and the sort of bad attitude punk bands used to crave. It’s the work of solo developer Stephan Hövelbrinks and the art and world-building aren’t the only interesting things about it. Inspiration for the ‘living world’ and narrative comes from lofty sources:

“Death Trash is a modern post-apocalyptic roleplaying game with influences of cyberpunk, science fiction, horror, the grotesque, sex and trash-talk humor. It features a world full of dialogue and unique characters. Use shotguns, psi powers and eloquent talking to survive in this hostile wasteland. Death Trash is still at an early stage of development and the next step will be a playable prototype.

“Inspired by the roleplaying classic Ultima 7 with it’s focus on a living world as well as the narrative heavy Planescape: Torment, he knew this world had to be created as a mixture of both.”

Yes. I want to see more.

Oh, and this guy reminds me of that hitch-hiking robot that people were sad about recently.

From this site

68 Comments

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    I don’t know, the more sweary a work of fiction is, the more childish it seems. My mental image of the author is usually that of a teenager who is going through that phase of their lives where they think they are “edgy”.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Exactly this.

    • dethtoll says:

      On the one hand, I agree. On the other hand, it’s just so charming visually that I’m willing to either look past the dialogue, or just accept it as a grim reality of the post-apocalypse.

      Besides, I like this exchange: “Who the fuck are you?” “Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to ask what I wanted to become?”

    • unguided says:

      You’ve never served in the military or worked a tough job like oil and gas. Swearing is to be expected in certain environments, I would think the post-apocalypse is one of them. You should reassess who has a childish view of this :)

      • dethtoll says:

        Not to mention this has a serious gutterpunk vibe. I’ve met enough walking punk stereotypes to know that the F word tends to be punctuation with those people.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        I have served in the military – it was quite sweary, yes. I, and most of my peers were between 18 and early 20s though, so my original point stands.

        • unguided says:

          I do see your point. But to be nitpicky 18 is an adult and officers swear too. Can we agree that a fictional post-apocalypse is the ideal environment to express ‘immature’ behaviour?

          • Detocroix says:

            18 is adult by law (often), but a lot of 18 year olds aren’t mature. They are still teens trying to find their place in the society. Some people mature faster, some A LOT slower.

          • Kitsunin says:

            I’d agree that a lot of people would probably act really immature in a postapocalyptic culture. I do also feel that overuse of swears is a facet of immaturity. One which is probably most common among young adults (and so a lot of the military), because you’re at that age where nobody really gives a shit if you swear, but it still has that attraction left over from teenage years.

            Eventually everyone who matures realizes that swears have a lot more power when used sparingly. That, or hearing them starts to get tedious.

          • aircool says:

            If you’ve been in the military, you’ve probably also ended up somewhere like ‘Puke Bar’ at some point, and have probably pissed in the corner of the room like the picture at the top.

        • unguided says:

          Well if not officers then older NCO’s.

          • aircool says:

            In my experience, swearing goes right from bottom to top. My old Air Commodore swore just as much as the rest of us when amongst work colleagues. Then again, he used to sit in the back of a ground attack Tornado and had enjoyed the pleasures of getting locked by SAM’s over the Balkans.

            There’s plenty of situations where swearing isn’t used, comms for example and any interactions where you’re hosting guests on official business (although that changes with familiarity), and any sort of speech or presentation is toned for the audience.

            It really does depend on your daily life, as do many other things. For example, I think the wearing of beards as fashion accessories is childish, shallow and irritating, as is the whole hipster culture (See Get In The Fucking Sea for plenty of great examples).

      • Philopoemen says:

        Comes down to Time, Place, Circumstance.

        Swearing when you’re in a group environment working with people you know, knowing each others roles etc, that smacks of reality.

        Swearing at people you’ve never met before on first contact, a whole lot less so.

      • Janichsan says:

        Swearing in a dialogue is one thing, but calling a town “Fucktopia” is taking it to a completely different level…

        • Spacewalk says:

          Beats livin’ in Shitsville any day of the week.

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          Dukey says:

          If you look a little closer, it says the Fucktopia image is “an interface mockup for the world map, the area depicted here just used for the prototype.”

      • Baines says:

        Swearing can often feel faked or forced in works of fiction. I think it happens for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is obvious that a writer is simply using profanity to be “edgy”, especially if they aren’t even particularly skilled in its use. At other times, the tone of the story or the quality of the dialogue just doesn’t fit well with profanity, so that swearing can be jarring in the wrong ways or can make otherwise passable writing look amateurish.

        There is also the “reality is stranger than fiction” aspect. Some things that we accept in real life isn’t as acceptable in fiction, and that includes word usage. Conversations that are realistic to life, when reduced to fit into a game (or other work of fiction), can suddenly look childish, contrived, or simply the result of bad or amateurish writing.

      • aircool says:

        I have to second that. Whether in the office or on the field, swearing is just part of the language in general conversation or under any sort of stress.

        I can certainly understand why it may come across as a bit immature but there are certain careers where swearing acts as a stress relief system, as well as building up a mental toughness to the harsh criticism needed in dangerous situations.

        Like most youngsters, I was taught that swearing indicated a limited vocabulary and therefore a lack of intelligence. However, I know a hell of a lot of profanities that can sum up a situation or feeling far better than a paragraph of words.

        • aircool says:

          Oops… no edit :)

          I think that unless you’ve work in those particular areas, constant swearing does come across quite negatively, but for those of us who have worked in those environments, it’s just part of the language.

      • Jackablade says:

        Or visited Australia.

    • Detocroix says:

      Yup. Same with me. There are definitely good places for swears in games, but just like humor, you can’t slam it everywhere or it will just suck.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        I am reminded of something I read about Jessica Jones in the original Alias series. The first bunch of issues were packed with fucks, but reportedly, creator Brian Michael Bendis has said that it was probably a bit overdone, so he phased it out in later issues.

    • santouryuu says:

      personally,i think what matters is if swearing is used creatively.the timing,words have to be well selected and appropriate to the situation,as with humour.of course,if you are just randomly spouting “ass” or “fuck”,that is just childish.but just having swears is imo not equal to being childish.and you know childish or not,a post apocalyptic situation is the perfect place to create the crazy,fucked up world.i have only played fallout 1,so don’t know about the newer one but at least 1 always felt more normal and sane than i thought should be in this setting.it just felt more like what a normal,anarchist area would feel like

    • Chris Cunningham says:

      The swearing in the original Fallout was what set it apart from its contemporaries as a game for adults.

      What’s far, far worse than gratuitous swearing in the sense of fake edginess is gratuitously Bowdlerised swearing, where every frakker is being told to zog off every two minutes.

    • Niko says:

      It’s not even swear words, it’s just that the writing doesn’t seem very inspired: link to twitter.com

      • talecrafter says:

        Well, that may not have been on of my best moments. Thanks for the feedback. :) Just wanted to mention that so many of these are just example scenes testing code and the dialogue system. This project is still at an early stage, I am used to post constantly online what I’m doing and I am experimenting a lot. So, naturally, there will be some missed marks there.

        • Niko says:

          Okay, thanks for the reply! I don’t want to hate on the game, but this moment kind of bugged me, the character’s reaction to two deaths that just happened isn’t quite… life-like.

    • ohminus says:

      And I think people who consider swearing childish but will fawn over displays of massive violence have never acquired a truly adult concept of maturity.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        Fair enough. Although, swearing is not childish. Never said that. It’s when it’s gratuitously splashed all over the content in a misguided attempt to seem gritty/edgy/whatever that it loses its bite. Good writing vs. bad writing.

        Same goes for violence, sex, etc. If the only thing the author is communicating is “Ooooh, guts!” or “Ooooh boobies!” then they may need to reassess their artistic direction.

    • talecrafter says:

      Hey, there. I’m the author of the game. And I can understand that some of you have some concerns regarding the writing. But it’s not that I am going for the “Ooooh, guts!” or “Ooooh boobies!”.
      This game is just three months in development. I “discovered” the world by making my daily art images and stumbling upon it and then experimented with some dialogue. The scenes I posted are iterations to find a voice for the game, and the “pisspunk” attitude just stuck and gave a good match to the visuals. There will be other themes explored, too, that deal more with the philosophical aspects of a world gone anarchy, the existence of demi-god entitites and how people’s lifes are changed in their wake, the responsibility when creating artificial life, etc.
      And regarding the sexual theme, that will be explored from many different angles. At least I strive for a diverse representation.
      So, I am sure the style of this game and the dialogue will not please everyone. That’s impossible. But I’m not going for the shock value, I just try to create a world I myself would want to explore.
      (As a side note: English is not my native language. So if there are any errors, I am always glad when someone points them out.)

      • ashjxx says:

        Hi, Stephan!

      • aircool says:

        Swearing is common amongst people who work ‘at the coal face’; that is, people who spend a lot of their time facing constant danger and have to maintain a high level of awareness at all times. It’s exhausting and stressful. Swearing is good for de-stressing and helps to bond a group together.

        In such an environment, new and amusing profanities emerge all the time, often to the entertainment of the group.

      • cptgone says:

        Sounds promising. Good luck!

        The Puke Bar screenshot had me laughing out loud already. I think I’ve been there once, one wouldn’t want to leave one’s wallet there.

    • Xzi says:

      I’m pretty sure I’d be swearing up a storm during and post-apocalypse, and I’m pretty sure everyone else would too. So I don’t think it’s fair to knock a post-apocalyptic game that is striving for a more realistically dire situation.

    • Bryggz says:

      I’m inclined to agree, but stuff like this certainly has a place.

      In the real world we have lots of tactless, adolescent-adults that like to swear in lieu of intelligent conversation. So I think the developers are trying to capture that.

    • Stardog says:

      Your problem is that you subvocalize in your own voice. In the authors’ mind it probably reads completely differently. Decent voice acting should fix it just fine.

      There’s nothing immature about swearing. It’s basic communication. Why are you unable to accept that the character speaks in that way? I’m sure you want all protagonists in a novel to be likeable too? Very strange.

    • Geewhizbatman says:

      Well good-golly molly! I’ve never found any reason to be gosh-darned upset with swearing either way, ya little rascal. Oh my stars, it’s just this fudged up world we live in I suppose.

      If anything I find purposefully avoiding swearing as if it weren’t a huge part of the world to be more grating than excessive naughtiness.

      Still, the cyberpunk world especially has a capacity for creative swears that doesn’t often get tapped into. I think Shadowrun is the best at riding that line.

      The final point would be to remember how important insults and dirty words are to creative writing. Agreed that they should be used creatively and with purpose, don’t agree that they inherently take from the maturity or impact of the work: link to pangloss.com

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Sweariness is an interesting thing… For a start it is certainly culturally-bound: in my experience United Statesians tend to find naughty words most offensive overall (certainly in comparison to Australians or Europeans), although it comes down to which words are used and their context, of course. An Australian MP was caught on camera recently in question time calling one of his opposition a cunt! (He claims he said “grub”, but it sure doesn’t sound that way to me)

      I’ve always found it a bit odd when people are down on swearing in and of itself though. It can be nasty to be sworn at, but in that case it is someone being aggressive or attempting to offend that is the cause of the nastiness really – the swearing just adds strength.

      I would also contend that swearing serves a useful psychological purpose – there are some studies that show that a good healthy dose of profanity helps to lessen perceived pain, and it is not unusual for poor souls who have lost capacity for speech to still be able to swear fluently, which would seem to indicate that it isn’t dealt with in the same way as ‘polite’ language in the brain (though I hasten to point out I have no particular expertise in this realm).

      For me I think it is the dysphemic use of swearing that I am most attached to, however. This is the opposite of a euphemism, where you might delicately use a softer term to describe something (he has ‘passed on’ rather than ‘died’, for example). A dysphemism (like describing a cigarette as a ‘coffin nail’, or having sex as ‘fucking’) can be grounding, and help to puncture high-minded nonsense.

      It is this kind of dysphemic swearing which I think would be most at home in a desperate post-apocolypse scenario, especially with a bit of gallows-humour mixed in. How Death Trash will actually use such language remains to be seen, especially in light of what the developer has said in these comments about the early, experimental nature of these screens.

      I will leave you with Billy Connolly’s observation that there is no polite English equivalent for “fuck off” which accurately captures its universality or emotional honesty.

      • talecrafter says:

        Thank you for this rather sober analysis. I won’t go into more detail here, because, as being said, this is still at an early stage. It may go into different directions. But I just would like to express that comments like these are why I always love reading the part under a Rock Paper Shotgun article. Lots of knowledge and different viewpoints to be found. :)

  2. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    Some nice looking monsters and characters at the blog, curious about the combat. Will keep an eye out for this.

    I wouldn’t call Fallout Bethesda’s world, even if they own the IP. Still looking forward to F4 quite a lot though.

    • dethtoll says:

      Well, it’s really Leonard Boyarsky and Chris Taylor’s world, isn’t it? But Bethesda has, by and large, hewed pretty closely to the original vision. Fallout 3 is arguably even more aggressively retro-50s than Fallout 1 ever was.

      • Chris Cunningham says:

        For all that the transition to first-person 3D riled people up, Bethesda did a wonderful job with giving off the right vibe. I don’t think anyone’s ever faulted them for that.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I guess you haven’t read the Internet, then. They absolutely screwed up the tone.

          • guygodbois00 says:

            Pretty much, this.

          • Chris Cunningham says:

            Of, course the Internet faulted them. I mean people whose opinions I care about.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Oh, right, so what you’re saying is that the set of people you’ve selected to match your argument matches your argument. Gotcha.

            You could do us all a favour and just not bother with the Internet at all any more.

    • geisler says:

      I’ll just leave this here link to i.imgur.com

      • Chris Cunningham says:

        Ah, an imgur rant (bonus for being a jpeg with compression turned up enough to blur the text). Well, all the ones about women and games journalists were so compelling after all.

        • Abattoir says:

          You can just say “LA LA LA LA LA” if you REALLY don’t care.

  3. SVW says:

    Reminds me a lot about the first Postal game, and I mean this in the most positive way possible.

  4. Zallgrin says:

    I really like the haircut and the dialogue options. Looks like my type of game, will definitely check it out.

  5. plugav says:

    A pixel art Fallout as re-imagined by punk teens? As long as there’s a decent game underneath – sign me up!

  6. Philopoemen says:

    The art style reminds me too much of Gods Are Watching, which in turn just reminds me of dying. A lot.

  7. Earl-Grey says:

    Is pisspunk a style now?
    I sure hope so, people keep calling me a hobo.

  8. drygear says:

    [Point shotgun at him]
    Give me that lube
    [Kick him in the balls]
    Fuck it.

    I’m loving the look and attitude.

  9. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I’m always terrified when someone says that their game was inspired by games like Ultima 7 or Planescape Torment. It’s like some kid playing basketball in the park telling you that his next shot is inspired by Kareem Abdul Jabar (right before he breaks his leg). As much as I want the game in question to measure up, I’ve never once seen it happen.

    • Geebs says:

      Never place your heroes on such a high pedestal that you can’t at least hand them up some bog-roll, and maybe some light reading material. Food! Yes, you need to be able to pass up food. Fish and chips should cover all the bases, then. Where was I?

    • talecrafter says:

      Hey, I know that it is unrealistic of me as a single intermediate developer to create something in the scope of the great classics. I should be more careful with my wording there. Thanks for the feedback. But let me at least say I was “inspired” by them. If I may not mention them at all, how am I able to explain where I’m coming from?

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    gritz says:

    This looks great. Fuck everyone else right in the puke.

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    everstep says:

    I really want to like this more, but the writing really does seem uninspired. That first screenshot made me hope for some truly fucked up imagery and themes, but the writing brings it down and makes it much more superficial and amateurish than I can really appreciate.

    Still, kudos for at least getting that first reaction out of me. I’d love for more games to go for the throat like that. The first Hotline Miami is still a standard-bearer here.

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    cpt_freakout says:

    You had me at ‘pisspunk’, even if I have no idea what it is. I think I’d rather have more of this kind of juvenile stuff than the corny juvenile stuff we already get from the likes of ‘mature’ AAA games.

  13. Zorn says:

    Inspired by… can mean so little these days.

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    syllopsium says:

    I’m liking the art style and general feel, although like others I’m a little concerned the swearing is overdone.

    OK, perhaps your character is a bit of a sweary idiot. ‘Fucktopia’ I can just about go with. ‘Puke bar’ seems to be stretching the bounds of credibility.

    Also, no Twitter/Facebook? Just considered that I’m really crap at remembering when a game is actually released, and limiting it to tumblr isn’t making it easy.

    Setting yourself up vs Ultima 7 and PST is asking for failure, but I do hope it succeeds – I want to see more.

    • plugav says:

      I don’t know about Twitter, but it does have a Facebook page: link to facebook.com

    • talecrafter says:

      Hello, there. I’m Stephan, the author of the game. I’m very active on Twitter: link to twitter.com – The ‘random’ writing and scenes are a byproduct of my open development process. I am used to post an image very day because of a ‘Daily Art Streak’ at link to streak.club and I am used to post about my games often, mostly because of the time I made one game a week, to get any kind of feedback. Some of these scenes were just made to show that there are scripts running and it’s not only concept art anymore.
      I know that U7 and Torment are very high goals, probably too much for a single intermediate developer. Should probably work on my wording there. It’s not realistic that I create a mix of both in the same scale as them. Thanks for the feedback. I just wanted to mention my roots, and also, that I would rather try and fail creating something in the spirit of them than not try at all.

  15. Enkinan says:

    Surprised nobody has mentioned Westerado, I thought of it immediately after the first pic.