The Fallout 3 remake mod Capital Wasteland is cancelled

Fallout 4: Capital Wasteland

We’ve previously covered the exciting-looking Capital Wasteland mod for Fallout 4. Planned as a full remake of Fallout 3 in the later game’s engine, one prerequisite for such a project would be to port over the voice audio files from the original game, a legally grey move that could potentially earn the project a cease-and-desist or other legal threat.

Wanting to preempt such issues, the Capital Wasteland team got in contact with Bethesda, seeking official blessing for such a move. Unfortunately, the studio weren’t willing or able to offer such support. With little option beyond assembling a massive voice cast of their own, they’re officially calling it quits on the project after a full year in development, although there may yet still be some hope for it.

Personally, I’d hope that the Capital Wasteland team release what they already had completed, minus legally questionable voicework, and allow the community to finish porting over the Fallout 3 environments to be later populated with new quests and content. Unfortunately, not even that looks likely to happen, as some team members involved have decided to withdraw their work from the project outright.

So, until further notice the Capital Wasteland project is officially on hiatus, with the possibility (as mentioned on Twitter here) of it returning as something other than a direct Fallout 3 remake. Interestingly, Fallout 4: New Vegas, a similar mod aimed at recreating a better game on newer tech, is still in development, although has been officially delayed in order to round up the talent necessary to record their own replacement dialogue.

If nothing else, they’ll at least be able to come up with some alternate barks for the wandering NPCs. If I hear another grunt wish for a nuclear winter, I’m nuking the entire wasteland again. It’s sad to see a mod project like this shut down, but the pragmatist in me says that it’s better to end it like this than for a team of dozens to grind away at it only to be hit by a legal threat in the final stages of development. We wish both the Capital Wasteland and Fallout 4: New Vegas teams best of luck in their endeavors.

If you feel like sighing sadly over screenshots of what could have been, you can gaze wistfully at the Capital Wasteland site here.


  1. Finstern says:

    Would be a ton of work, but cool to see the community offer their voice talents!

    • Addie says:

      If they’re wanting to keep it to the established Bethesda standards, then they’ll only need about four different voices for every character in the game.

    • Massenstein says:

      This has been done before. There is this massive mod for New Vegas – Project Brazil – that has community voices (pretty good ones, too!). Last time I played it was pre-FO4 and it was unfinished but still very amazing experience. Might give it a revisit now actually. :)

  2. FranticPonE says:

    Players “So hey can we remake your game as a mod for your game?”
    Bethesda “No”
    Players “So are you remaking these older games?”
    Bethesda “No”
    Players “Uhm…”
    Bethesda “Hey look you can pay us for mods you make for our games now!”

    Fuck I hate that company. Good thing Fallout 3 was the last game of their’s I liked (New Vegas was made by Obsidiaaaaan.)

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I’m right there with you, buddy. Bethesda gives zero fucks about the quality of their products or the satisfaction of their customers.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        A lot of it is Zenimax. They have curated that reputation far longer than Bethesda.

      • Stevostin says:

        They care so little about user mods that they don’t even have a user mod section within their UI, while nearly everyone else do!

        Oh wait no it’s the opposite. They’ve been the more dedicated at promoting user mods in their games since morrowind, ridiculously leading the effort vs other RPG makers.

        Apparently to some people they’d be seen as “giving more f*cks” to user mods if they didn’t do it at all rather than doing it in any other way than sheer perfection.

        But hey, F4 having 10 times more mods than TW3 has to be a coincidence. No way any credit can be giving to Bethesda.

        Reminds me of the idiot army who missed the amazing multi option quest in Fallout 3 (more than F2 or F1) because “doooh ! I hate Bethesda” and now we have nearly no more multi path quest any more in their games.

        Keep on with that attitude. Maybe thank to you Bethesda support for mods will drop to the level any other RPG maker provide, ie close to nothing. Why bother if no credit is given, right?

    • woodsey says:

      The issue is the voice-acting, they were fine with them remaking the game. You would know that if you had read the article. As others have said, it is probably a licensing issue that they have no power over.

      How did you even arrive at the conclusion that Bethesda – whose every game is a new poster-child for modding – would be as unhelpful, pedantic, and even spiteful as possible towards someone modding their work?

      I don’t agree with their paid mods stuff either, but at least base your argument in something vaguely resembling reality.

    • Seyda Neen says:

      Players “So hey can we remake your game as a mod for your game?”
      Bethesda “Yes, do whatever the fuck you want just don’t use assets from our old games because that is illegal sorry”

      I mean this is the same company that gave their blessing to Skywind and OpenMW (engine conversion for Morrowind) so your particular beef here doesn’t really hold up.

    • Digital_Utopia says:

      Ironically, as far as I can figure, the only reason to contemplate replacing the dialogue, or cancelling the project itself, is that such a project wouldn’t work with Bethesda’s paid mods program.

      Otherwise they could do exactly what almost every other mod that had to make use of another game’s assets to work, did. Release it without the offending content, and provide instructions/tools to copy over the necessary content from the player’s copy of the original game.

  3. Sandepande says:

    Maybe the voice work is licensed only to be used in FO3, or in a particular iteration of the Gamebryo engine (Tale of Two Wastelands uses FO3’s assets in New Vegas), or something like that.

    I suspect FO4’s New Vegas mod isn’t going to fare any better.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      As mentioned, Fallout 4: New Vegas is delaying development in order to assemble their own amateur voice cast, rather than fold. It’s a tough call either way for a mod team, though.

    • Arflec says:

      Good point on licensing the voice work. Was thinking the same thing as I was reading comments reflexively dumping on Bethesda/Zenimax above. Real life is complicated sometimes, particularly when you consider the rights of all the people who contribute to a game of the scope of Fallout 3.

  4. int says:

    Make it text only then, or in the manner of Banjo Kazooie et al with monosyllabic repeated sounds (bouncy letters optional).

  5. malkav11 says:

    “With little option beyond assembling a massive voice cast of their own”

    Actually, no, there’s a really easy option that would be way better than either the voicework in Fallout 3 or a fan dub and that’s called “skipping voiceovers”. It only feels weird if some stuff is voiced and some isn’t.

  6. SaintAn says:

    They should try playing Fallout 1 & 2 so they can see how much better Fallout is without voice acting. They could have massively improved the game by adding the Fallout 1 & 2 dialogue system to it.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      So, how do you intend for combat barks (which you need to hear from every direction) to work? Or for conversations the player isn’t directly involved in? Fallout 1 & 2 got away with floating text above character’s heads, but that’s not something you can do in first person without it looking really janky.

      • NetharSpinos says:

        Has anyone considered remaking Fallout 3 (and 4, why not) in the old Fallout 1/2 style?

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          Nauallis says:

          I’m sure somebody considered it, and then realized how stupid of a suggestion it is.

          • malkav11 says:

            I don’t think it’s stupid, but it would be a -lot- more work than just modding a game that’s designed to be moddable into the next iteration of the engine. And that’s already enough work that I’ll be very surprised to see these projects come to fruition even if they don’t run into (imo trivial) snags like this one.

          • 111uminate says:

            It isn’t a stupid suggestion. It’s more like an impossible one, considering assets would need to be created. That’s beyond the scope of many modders, as they would essentially need to create the game from the ground up.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        As for combat barks, they can just go with the generic ones that come with the F4 engine

      • malkav11 says:

        Nearby conversations could be subtitled. Combat barks… I honestly don’t remember them from Fallout 3 (I assume they were probably present) but if they were absolutely necessary to make combat intelligible, a few short phrases and utterances per enemy type seems like way less voice acting to source than every single thing anyone says throughout the entire game.

      • SaintAn says:

        I don’t know what a combat bark is. I’m guessing it’s when a fight is initiated or someone dies and the enemy says a line.

        If so why not some styled subtitles in first person and a styled speech bubble/floating text overhead in third person with a sound cue like a grunt, growl, yell or some other aggro noise for audio notification and location? (Final Fantasy XI aggro noises for an example of what I’m talking about) Maybe it could show up in the chat box the game would need to have for the game being a text based?

        Though I’m pretty sure I’ve played a game where chat bubbles above off screen characters heads popped up on screen with directional awareness and stuck to the players screen and moved as they moved. The chat bubble got bigger the closer you were and the closer you turned to them, and the farther away you were the bubble got smaller until it lost its stickyness and fell off screen once you got out of its radius. Can’t remember what game it was, which is going to bug me. It might have been a third person game, but it would work in first person.

        But if something stumped them they could have fans brainstorm ideas.

        • Dominic Tarason says:

          It’s basically every vocal cue you get in first-person shooters that isn’t actual dialogue. All the ‘He’s behind cover!’ or ‘I hear something!’ bits of voicework. You barely even notice their presence because it’s so natural, but when they’re removed, enemies feel a lot less like humans/intelligent creatures.

      • skyturnedred says:

        Subtitles are a thing. I’m sure you can find generic grunts etc for free. And let’s not pretend FO4 combat is so tactical you need to hear everything.

        • Stevostin says:

          You need to hear something behind you when there’s something behind you. You may not realize it but the IP issue will also affect any audio material. If you have anything from F3 that isn’t in F4 audio material (say some Enclave stuff… or most of what’s in the DLCs…), you have all the sounds to create. Which is often even more work than VA.

    • skyst says:

      Most major characters in Fallout 1 and 2 have voice acting, though.

      • SaintAn says:

        It was only a few characters out of each game and they didn’t have much dialogue.

        • skyst says:

          A few? Try 30 or 40 characters. ‘Much’ is subjective, but their dialogue trees were rich for the time and are more substantial than many offered by the more recent Fallout games.

          • Slazer says:

            22 in the first game, only 13 in Fallout 2 according to the wiki.

            Regard F3/4 in the style of the old games, why would anyone care about that? The story and your influence on the world are a joke in the new games, the Bethesda titles are mainly about “look at this thing that is cool, bro”. And scripting in that engine must have been a nightmare, according to the list of bugs in Fallout 2

          • BooleanBob says:

            Hell, not even every potential party member had voice work in 2. Didn’t stop it being one of the all-time classics, mind.

    • Stevostin says:

      I played them at the time. I replayed the first one a bit a few years ago. I do use a mod to skip the VA on my character in F4 and find it an essential. I value imagination over representation in game design (a lot). Yet I disagree with you. Bethesda games are about creating the illusion that you’re here. Muted characters would be terribly inconsistent. More over some of the voice acting was ace in F3.

  7. ChucklesNuts says:

    Solution to this problem is to ask the community to record the lines. And then submit them to the mod team. There is no legal ramifications with this method. Also other mod teams have done this and have had zero problems.

    The problem with using original content from Fallout 3 even if you own the content is that the original voice over actors might get disgruntled and demand payment for use of their voices.

    This isn’t a Bethesda problem as it is a license rights problem. Bethesda cannot give its blessing because it has no right to. I remember several remastered or digital re-released play station 1/2 games that took forever or will probably NEVER see a digital release on the play station store because of voice actors licenses.

    These days with modern license rights contracts MODS, re releases, re masters are allowed under contract.

    • Splyce says:

      Here’s something I don’t get, and it seems like you know about this stuff so maybe you can enlighten me: if the voice actors own their performance and have essentially licensed it for a one time use to Bethesda, is Bethesda then contractually obligated to C&D the modders? Should each voice actor be responsible for protecting their rights? And I know there was a strike and all not that long ago, but there were a lot of reports that voice actors don’t even get told what they’re working on or how big it’ll be, so it doesn’t seem like they have really great licensing deals as it is.

      • Stevostin says:

        It entirely depends on the specific of the contracts that were made at the time. I suspect those had a standard provision about not allowing for reuse of the material outside of everything Fallout 3.

        Now if that mod was something bound to happen, even for free, it could make sense for Bethesda to pay the bills. But as they have no guarantee this mod will ever be completed any day, it wouldn’t be a sensible move for them. They probably feel as frustrated as people here. It’s bad press on the very front they’re spending so much to make a strong selling point.

  8. Someoldguy says:

    I know zero about the legalities, but if someone had Fallout 3 installed on heir PC, why couldn’t a Fallout 4 mod call the sound files legally owned as a part of their copy of Fallout 3?

    • Someoldguy says:

      *their …. where has the edit option gone?

    • badmothergamer says:

      I was wondering the same thing. I know “A Tale of Two Wastelands”, the mod that brought FO3 to the FNV engine, required a copy of FO3 installed in order to copy assets to the FNV folder.

  9. IonTichy says:

    Why not make it text only instead?
    And maybe provide an easy way for the user to drop in the required voicefiles themselves.
    That way the mod creators have no actually used the files and the user can choose to do it anyways.
    It’s a bit irritating how much modders listen to companies these days tbh…

  10. Eagle0600 says:

    This is not a unique problem, nor is it one without a solution: Instead of distributing the content (which requires the IP holder’s permission), distribute a tool which ports the content for the user as part of the installation process of the mod. Since everything you are distributing is your own work, it’s legally fine, and you don’t need any permission.

  11. pookie101 says:

    It dumbfounds me that people put years into remaking a game like this as a mod THEN decide to contact the IP owners about using the content from the previous game.

    Always get permission or check out the legalities BEFORE you start, otherwise you are just wasting years of your time.

    Reusing copyrighted audio is always going to get you spanked by a legal team as it’s licensed to a specific project and no owning the game it comes from does not give you the right to use it in your mod

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      It sounds like a bit of a cop-out, to be honest… The sound files aren’t crucial to the mod, as others have said, and if they’ve really put a lot of effort in so far then I wouldn’t expect them to give up so easily.

      • Dave Mongoose says:

        In fact having read the official statement on their website, I’m even more convinced of this. Aside from the Random capitalisation, misspellings, and nonsensical legal explanation (“I […] would most probably be Liable for any acts of Piracy and Copyright infringement resulting from the projects release” – Surely the release itself would be the copyright infringement, not ‘acts resulting from it’? And where does piracy come into this?), the final reason given is the rather weak one of not wanting to replace the original voices because they’re from talented actors…

  12. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Drib says:

    I’m still expecting that they’ll get this like 90% done and then Zenimax will wake up, roll over, and squash them.

    Because I’m a pessimistic jerk, I guess.

    I am sad that I was correct on the previous article about this mod. Granted, it wasn’t exactly a C&D, but it might as well have been.

    Sucks. This looked neat.

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      As some have pointed out, it’s most likely related to how Bethesda licensed the voice acting; i.e. contractually they paid for the voices to be used in Fallout 3 but otherwise don’t hold the rights to them. The actors and/or their management companies would probably be the ones who could sue, in which case Bethesda can’t be seen to be giving permission or they’d be in legal trouble as well.

    • Stevostin says:

      OR they could have asked first. Sometimes you expect the small structure with an ability to take initiative to actually do that instead of expecting the big structure with no beacon in the project to do it, or ask way too late.

      But hey, let’s bash Bethesda. It never gets old.

  13. brucethemoose says:

    So, what, does this kill Skywind and Skyblivion and Morroblivion (the last of which is already done) too?

    Seems like they do the same thing. Why don’t they get in any legal hot water?

    • KingFunk says:

      Morrowind didn’t feature voiced dialogue so this issue isn’t quite the same. IIRC though, Morroblivion does use Morrowind NPC barks (“n’wah!” etc.) so I don’t know if that somehow doesn’t count…?

      • brucethemoose says:

        Oh, right.

        That still leaves Skyblivion though. IIRC everything isn’t being recreated from scratch like Skywind.

    • Seyda Neen says:

      Skywind doesn’t use any kind of art/audio assets from Morrowind, it’s all recreated from scratch, so that project is fine. Morroblivion has always been technically “illegal”, you could never even talk about it on the Bethsoft forums, but Bethesda just always let it be. Not sure if Skyblivion is in the same vein as Skywind or Morroblivion.

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