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My personal, biggest disillusionment with Beth's Fallouts


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DISCLAIMER: Yes, I reckon this will be one of those, over-analysing, kinda navel-gazing, and most assuredly long ones... so you'd better grab a beer/roll a joint or 2 and get comfortable!

 

DISCLAIMER 2 THE REVENGEANCE RISING: Not a native speaker, so the wall of text is bound to have gramatical and phrasing issues and will probably offend the grammar nazis out there at some point or another. Moving on...

 

So, it should come as a surprise to absolutely noone that FO4 (vanilla, pre-GECK, that is) is far from the masterpiece it's been lauded at on oh-so-many "best of 2015" lists and professional reviewing sites. Be its atrocious, HORRENDOUS dialogue system, kinda fun but unpolished (and largely irrelevant, tbh) settlement minigame, woefully simplistic and uninspired fetch quests, action-focused segments and game design, almost non-existent character customization capabilities (and I do mean character as in characterization, not facegen data), and a truckload more, seems everybody's of the opinion that Fallout 4 is overall a letdown, though most times for entirely different reasons. But nowhere on the internet do I see MY main reason represented, so I thougt I'd voice it here, because it's been jammed in my throat since FO3. So allow me to jump right into it.

 

To put it plainly, what made Fallout games great for me was its world-building. I'm not saying Bethesda can't do world-building (I know they can, even if the quality of such world-building has... shall we say, "oscillated wildly" when compared to the Morrowind days), but I invite you to ask yourselves this: What world is Bethesda trying to portray, exactly? Or rather, when?

Ever since I popped my Fallout cherry with FO2 all those years ago, I was immediately amazed by Fallout's goofy-while-serious tone and "post-nuclear pulp" style. I grabbed it almost by accident and thus knew next to nothing about it, and was awestruck with the balance the devs had... well, struck. Do you know what encapsulates this contrast perfectly in my mind's eye? The oh-so-iconic Fallout catch-phrase, but for an entirely different reason altogether than what most people seem to get out of it.

 

"War never changes" is all well and good and may very well be true (in an abstract, philosophical sort of way, and hey that's what so neck-twisting about it!), BUT THE WORLD THAT SERVES AS ITS STAGE, WITNESS AND TRIBUTE DOES. At least in FO1-2 it did. Even late Interplay's bastard/stillborn children, New Vegas and Van Buren respectively (from what the fallout vault glimpsed of it), acquiesced to this prevalent, but unwritten and unspoken, understanding.

 

But not Bethesda's Fallout, no. Bethesda's Fallout just stopped for 200+ years. Frozen in time, like one of those snowglobes House liked so much (insert nuclear winter joke here). We may debate until the sun goes supernova about how realistic that is or is not, but no amount of word-flinging will convince me that this is not lazy and super-convenient on their part. Not to mention boring, but I'll get to that.

 

And that's what I meant by world-building earlier. Interplay's take on world-building gave us Shady Sands, Broken Hills and The Den. Built on the ruins of the Old World, sure (though not really in the case of Shady Sands), but very much their own thing NOW. I've always felt the focus was just as much, if not more, on what the inhabitants of this world did to, and built with, its smoldering embers rather than the embers per se. Life goes on, and apparently irradiated life is no exception. The world felt lived in, in a way FO4 (and 3) could never come close of achieving. Have you ever stopped to wonder what our favorite scoundrels and rapscallions at Goodneighbor eat when they're not smelling freedom? No crops anywhere, are there? "Trade" is a nice try, but too inconstant and piecemeal to accomodate a town's needs. Now try to remember Klamath, or Redding, or the aforementioned Shady Sands, or even Goodsprings. See what I'm hinting at?

 

You know what I feel like Bethesda's world-building amounts to, 80% of the time? Skeleton-posing. And scribbled notes. And terminals. With notes in them. And protagonists looking for family members... ooops, that's not world-building, that's just the oldest trick in the book to make the audience care about the protagonist's plight, by appealing to their empathic links with family ties. My bad. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Another 10% is what I like to call the "Camp Lamplight effect", stuff that was clearly thrown in in a gimmicky, "just because" sort of way, with no real care for in-universe cohesiveness and/or plausability. It's also a steady supply of character cameos from older games, even if said characters' timeline doesn't really make sense as a result of it.

 

The last 10% is our Diamond Cities and Rivet Cities.

 

But yeah, skeleton-posing! Not that I'm bashing on it, I think it can actually be a decent and effective storytelling device, but Beth overplays it along with the notes, and the device loses impact as a result.

 

But back on topic, Bethesda's focus regarding world-building seems to be a fixation with American History, to the point where things get ridiculous really fast. Need a quirky aesthetic and tone to set your product apart other than name recognition alone? American History! Need a McGuffin for a side-quest so the player has a reason to go poking in the Capitol Building? American History! Need a working satelite dish amidst the rubble of Post-Apoc DC? American History! Need a hackneyed reference to slavery in your game (even though the setting you bought the rights of already came with one but was too subtle?) American History! Need a faction that is not a complete dick to the common wastelander? American History! Need a robot to say some funny lines, wear a wig, tell the PC to grab something somewhere and thus write in a quest ? American history!

 

It feels forced, artificial. It feels to me it takes so much space of both games because the devs thought they had nothing else to put in its place, both stylistically and in terms of word count. It feels to me like the world in the older Fallouts was as much a character in the overarching story as Harold or The Master, while the world in the newer Fallouts is akin to sight-seeing, with a very particular "patriotic" flavor..

Bethesda's obsession with this... theme... is so heavy-handed, it makes it seem like our character (that, lest we forget, is more predetermined than ever regarding the fallout series) went back in time instead of forward. I mean, why is Preston Garvey and Hancock dressed like 18th century infantry? Where did they get those threads? Those hats? Did people in Pre-War USA cosplay alot as soldiers in the independence war or something?

 

I'm well aware that these exaggerated, nationalistic elements already existed in some form in the older Fallouts, but they were never so prominent, they were never taking up so much center stage "real estate", probably because the devs had other stories to tell instead of retreading the abolitionist movement or the secession war or whatever. Where in this is the opportunity to tell the story of those small but precious social and cultural developments of POST-War inhabitants in the Wasteland? Where is the chance to be a pornstar in the developing POST-War porn industry, or a boxing champion, or a slaver, or a dealer, or a ranger? Or a stupid character with dialogue and responses to match?? I probably am not terribly interested in the story of that couple of skeletons on the kitchen (mainly because spoilers: they're dead. And they probably have been for as long as I was on ice), but what I would like to see is some more characterization on that guy over there spouting generic dialogue nonstop...

 

Now I'm not saying "old is better" or "don't change it" or anything of the sort, but I definitely will be playing future Fallouts for the mods only IF THAT, because I abhor the direction Beth is taking with the series. Not _only_ because "American History!", but because it prioritizes the retelling of what was in detriment of what is (Or to kinda steal that screenwriting adage, it focus on telling what was instead of showing what is). It reeks of pandering to a certain audience, it stinks of lazy writing to high heaven, it smothers every other thematic and aesthetic possibility like it's self-aware... I don't care for it very much. The worst part is the most obvious one, this.... "vision" Beth has for the Fallout world is not likely to go away any time soon, nor can it be easily modded out unless you rewrite and retex pretty much everything, not to mention how much more pervasive, abstract and all-encompassing it is than "settlements no work good fix modder lol". So... I'm wee bit worse off, not to mention alone, than most in my dissatisfaction. Read: shit out of luck.

 

TL,DR Fallout's new main character and its sidekick since 3, NV excluded - The Pre-War/ American History!

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Skeleton posing, eh? http://webm.land/media/fewM.webm

 

 

that's just the oldest trick in the book to make the audience care about the protagonist's plight, by appealing to their empathic links with family ties.

Nah. Deus Ex 1 has ones but it's the best PC game ever. Family ties is not the problem but the Emil Pagliarulo is. I assure you, if it was done by CDProject or any other competent dev, we all will end up praising the storyline.

The actual list of F4 failures are far shorter but the bigger in the same time:

-Emil Pagliarulo

-Todd Howard

-Pete Hines

The other 100+ of unqualified bethestards are just tools of the system (even Inon Zur, check out and compare his F:T:BOS, F:NV and Fo4 osts).

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Nah. Deus Ex 1 has ones but it's the best PC game ever.

Well, it's a landmark game certainly. For best game ever it has to compete with System Shock 2 (also a Warren Spector game - better mechanics but arguably inferior story), Civ (the original is probably still unmatched in terms of what it does, although you might want to consider Civ 2 or Master of Magic) and the other big contender is probably Morrowind.

 

But yeah, I won't take a thing away from Deus Ex. One of my all time favourite gaming moments was standing upstairs at the Lucky Money nightclub in Hong Kong and arguing politics with the barman - because I found the discussion interesting. I mean how often does that happen? Just wow.

 

 

Family ties is not the problem but the Emil Pagliarulo is. I assure you, if it was done by CDProject or any other competent dev, we all will end up praising the storyline.

Mmmm. It does seem like they leaned heavily on the cheap sentimentality to paper over the holes in the actual storyline. I mean I deeply dislike the F4 setup and storyline but I can imagine it could have been powerful if done right.

 

That said ... I'm not sure Fallout was the best vehicle for this story. It feels like I went into the cinema to watch Mars Attacks, and when I got in there they were showing Terms Of Endearment. And when I go to complain the cashier says "what you complaining about? They were all wearing vault suits! What more do you want?"

 

 

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Skeleton posing, eh? http://webm.land/media/fewM.webm

 

 

that's just the oldest trick in the book to make the audience care about the protagonist's plight, by appealing to their empathic links with family ties.

Nah. Deus Ex 1 has ones but it's the best PC game ever. Family ties is not the problem but the Emil Pagliarulo is. I assure you, if it was done by CDProject or any other competent dev, we all will end up praising the storyline.

 

Hey, I never said they were GOOD at skeleton-posing! biggrin.png

 

I'll have to crib TvTropes remark on this one because they sum up my views completely:

"Tropes are storytelling devices and conventions. They are the methods, concepts, conventions, and means by which writers, filmmakers, game programmers, and anyone else who tells a story uses to do so. They may be brand new and seem trite and hackneyed; they may be 1,000 years old—or older—and seem fresh and new. They are not bad; they are not good, they are simply tools that a creator of a work of art uses to express their ideas to the audience. A good artist can use tropes that they think will advance their story and produce something unique and different, while a great artist can take tropes that were old when Plato was alive and make people think that the story is also unique and different. Or they can take a bumper crop of brand new tropes, or old ones, or a mixture, and produce a piece of excrement that people think is garbage. Again, tropes are not good, and are not bad, they are simply the tools of storytelling."

 

Which is to say, Deus Ex implemented the trope adequately, FO4 didn't. Shaun is basically a damsel (in this case a toddler) in distresss, while Paul is a fully developed character that serves as the protagonist's link with and guiding figure to this whole other world and its political nuances and machinations. One is almost a non-character, the other is a well realized one.

 

Also, I feel like I should note I don't see that as contradictory with what I said earlier about making the audience care about the protagonist's plight by appealing to their empathic links with family ties. I do believe one of the reasons this trope -exists- is pretty much because of that tug in your heartstrings.

 

 

Family ties is not the problem but the Emil Pagliarulo is. I assure you, if it was done by CDProject or any other competent dev, we all will end up praising the storyline.

Mmmm. It does seem like they leaned heavily on the cheap sentimentality to paper over the holes in the actual storyline. I mean I deeply dislike the F4 setup and storyline but I can imagine it could have been powerful if done right.

 

That said ... I'm not sure Fallout was the best vehicle for this story. It feels like I went into the cinema to watch Mars Attacks, and when I got in there they were showing Terms Of Endearment. And when I go to complain the cashier says "what you complaining about? They were all wearing vault suits! What more do you want?"

 

 

Exactly. This is not Taken, this is Fallout. And for me Fallout is not what it is because of vault suits or its bulky, "city of tomorrow"-like robots and computers, but because of its fully realized landscape, its mood seeped in irony and dark humor, its subversion of the player's character as a tool to tell ITS (the wasteland's) story instead of having the world turn around him like he's/she's the Sun God or something. But oops, Fallout 4 botched all that because it wanted to be Post-Apoc Taken and now Post-Apoc Taken = Fallout, but it's still Fallout because Vaults! And pipboys! And American History! T_T

 

I just linked to this in another thread, but it touches on what you're expressing here

http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/facebook/001/034/067/02e.jpg

 

Very, very nice and relevant read, thanks for dropping this link here! Though the point I'm trying to make here is not really broached on that thread (That now fallout's character and focus is really about Pre-War and a morbid fascination with repeating, retelling and retreading American History in particular than doing its own thing like the Black Isle team was doing). Though they pretty much condense everything else that I feel is very very misguided in the newer fallouts' design. I'm in agreement with pretty much all that was said in there.

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Nah. Deus Ex 1 has ones but it's the best PC game ever.

Well, it's a landmark game certainly. For best game ever it has to compete with System Shock 2 (also a Warren Spector game - better mechanics but arguably inferior story) <snip>

 

I actually prefer SS2's story to Deus Ex, largely because I was already tired of politicized conspiracy theories before I was sixteen. Plus SS2 is more cerebral and asks uncomfortable internal questions like individuality vs. unity to a whole, flesh vs. machine, and what is the greater evil. Plus the way it presented the story through logs and the messages from Dr. Polito/SHODAN was very much in line with how the first System Shock game went.

 

As for the OP, I have to agree with everything. Especially the lazy writing and overemphasis on American history. I can remember playing FO4 and from the start seeing so much potential that was never used. In other posts I've made my feelings about the core game very clear: it's not Fallout. Back when FO3 was nearing launch a lot of people wondered if it would end up as "Oblivion with guns." To their credit, Bethesda did a decent (not great) job. But by now it's become clear that Bethesda is shoving Fallout into the TES mold. Only that's an insult to TES. The writing is horrible, the plot is lazily done, and the mechanics are so streamlined it doesn't feel like an RPG anymore. If what my friends tell me about WoW these days is true (I quit playing in 2011, mid-Cata), what they did to SWTOR, what those idiots at Catalyst Gaming Labs did to SR4 and 5, and what was done in D&D 4e and 5e, then "streamlining" things to appeal to the masses is all the rage these days.

 

If that's what people want, fine. But Bethesda has lost a long-time fan in me. At least until Todd Howard, who meddles and muddles everything, leaves. If he's representative of the current generation of gamers, then this is where I get off the train.

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If what my friends tell me about WoW these days is true (I quit playing in 2011, mid-Cata), what they did to SWTOR, what those idiots at Catalyst Gaming Labs did to SR4 and 5, and what was done in D&D 4e and 5e, then "streamlining" things to appeal to the masses is all the rage these days.

If that's what people want, fine. But Bethesda has lost a long-time fan in me. At least until Todd Howard, who meddles and muddles everything, leaves. If he's representative of the current generation of gamers, then this is where I get off the train.

 

 

Look, on the briefly-lived new boards I was pretty unkind to FO4, but the fact is is that streamlining IS a valid game design philosophy that can lead to incredible improvements in playability.  Complexity for complexity's sake is bad.  Full stop.  It adds nothing to the game on its' own, only creating the illusion of depth rather than actual depth, and increases the number of potential dead spaces in the design.

 

Let's go with SR4, because that's an actual, serious improvement to the core mechanic.  To explain for those who don't know, older editions of Shadowrun used a system of rolling six-sided dice.  The difficulty of a particular task was measured on two axes - a "target to roll" and a "threshold," or number of dice rolled over the target.  Sounds fair enough, but the problem was that the target numbers were not, in fact, 1-6, but 1-infinity.  Any die that rolls a six can be rerolled and the results added together.  

 

The problem is that there's pretty much no way to intuitively determine the actual difficulty of a given task with that many variables in the mix.  The problem was only ever amplified by having custom rules for everything, with the very real possibility of target numbers in the high 20s and die rolls that I've seen, in normal game-play, reach over 100 individual dice throws with karma at the high end.  The system works, but it's neither intuitive nor extensible - you need a rule for everything, and determining how that rule will actually function requires more statistical analysis than is actually reasonable to expect a player to do.  While they have all the information, it's useless.

 

Shadowrun 4 made some heavy mistakes (for one, letting the Matrix get too undefined, which is kind of the opposite problem) the core mechanic alteration is a massive improvement.  By fixing the target number at 5 for all tasks and using threshold as a universal measure of difficulty, the task of running the game becomes much easier.  It's much more intuitive to know how likely a character of a particular skill is likely to succeed at a particular task with only one dimension, which makes it far easier for a human game master to set appropriate challenges for their group.

 

That's streamlining.

 

Note that it's a bit different in a single-player game, and also in a computer game.  With the computer handling the math and the opposition being designed well ahead of time, you can get away with more complexity and still have a playable experience, as long as the player isn't required to understand it to interact with the game's mechanics.  There's not necessarily any benefit to knowing Weapon A does 5 damage and Weapon B does 10 damage if I know that B is twice as strong as A.  A could do 500, but if B does 1000 (and enemy HP is also multiplied by 100) there's no real difference.

 

The thing is, Fallout 4 is designed to fail to benefit from its' streamlining of the mechanics over the FO3/NV system.  While there's fewer numbers to play with, FO4 intentionally hides so much of its' information that the reduction in the actual amount of it benefits no one but the programmers, and maybe not even them.  Designers have less space to make things interesting, because so many perk points have to go towards simple advancement of things that were once offloaded onto the skill system.  There's also less granularity - if a player skips picking perks the designer expected to be desirable, enemies become much more tedious to fight (the 'bullet sponge' effect that can show up even on lower difficulty levels if you don't pick perks like Rifleman.)  Mandatory build choices create 'dead levels' where all you're doing is grinding to get the stuff you 'need' so you can take the perks you want.

 

While there's certainly streamlining involved, its' benefits are engineered out of the game by the rest of the design, while reducing the design space for interesting choices at the same time.

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That's streamlining.

 

 

So is less branching paths for a dialogue tree.

 

I mean, I understand where you're coming from I think. The numerical nit & grit and other mechanical aspects serve to the detriment of the overall experience if they mostly alienate players out of the game. I get that. But I think it's about time we take a long look at this nebulous term and start replacing it for what it really entails to the publisher; It's about cutting corners and net gains, not making this or that piece of media more accessible. Accessibility, from where I'm standing, comes more as a biproduct of the whole process.

 

I mean, take dialogue for instance. It doesn't involve any numerical equations for the player to solve, and not only that, every human being who has ever socialized in his or her life can intuitively understand that if (s)he says or acts in an X or Y way, his/her interlocutor will react accordingly and events, alliances and grievances might play out differently. The older Fallouts leaned heavily on this varied gamut of player choices and npc feedback to make the gameworld more plausible, to the detriment and/or alienation of noone because it reflects a basic reality of human interaction.

 

Then they "streamlined" it. Now we have a dialogue wheel where your range of choices is stifled from the start (by its very design), which then restricts character possibilities and player choice, which in turn alienates players. Simply streamlining it didn't make it any more "objectively" accessible to the average gamer, but significantly diminished the enjoyment for some. They even went so far as to represent the dialogue choice with a vaguely associated word, a la Alpha Protocol, and that was implemented to the benefit of noone. "SARCASM"? WTF is up with just, "sarcasm"? Is it a sarcastic "no"? a "yes"? Does it even matter since the npc will probably just ignore your reply like it just wants to spout whatever exposition and/or quest description it needs to and be done for the day?

 

Or as another example, quest objectives. The older Fallouts had this sorta eerie design omniscience, in which it gave you a simple-enough objective but left you to your own imagination in regards to how to complete it. I remember taking an ungodly amount of time in Vaul City in FO2 because I wanted to outright pillage the Vault, which had been turned into storage space by the town's (elitist, xenophobic, ethnocentric) denizens. But before I could lift everything they owned I had to befriend them somewhat. I remember there were these passes that let me roam the city by day only, with the 2nd tier passes letting me in the vault itself. But I had to either:

a) bribe the town's bureaucrats to give me one, but I didn't have the money for it.

b ) cuddle up to the town's overseer, but I didn't have enough charisma.

c) pass the citizenship test, which I couldn't (and to this day I wonder if it's at all possible, though I presume it is)

d) be their foreign relations guy and chat up with the ghouls in Gecko to see what's up with the radiation leak up there (another quest altogether).

e) kill everyone (you're just playing for laughs, aren't you?)

f) infiltrate (you just cheated and gave yourself some 30 lvls, didn't you?)

 

I clearly remember going with (d) and succeeding somewhat. Only to find out like YEARS later that if I just undressed and showed the test guy my vaultsuit he'd let me in, no questions asked! I was dumbfounded, feeling glad instead of cheated because I knew that the devs had put some way for every conceivable character type to have a fair shot at things, and not have content just locked from them. I.e., every character type was somewhat viable, if not optimal.

 

Now, I don't think there's a similar, branching quest structure in FO4, but from the quests I've played I don't think there are. FO2 and 4 are two fundamentally different beasts. Take the molerat disease for instance; Why can't I sell the serum to the doctor, or the boy's mother (who'd probably give me any amount of money to save her son?); Why can't I put those Science! and Chemist perks to use in an --->out-of-combat scenario<-- *gasp* and synthesize the cure in mass? No, I can't because for the quest to have any quasi-moral relevance I MUST have only the one syringe, no matter the perks or character I have. It's like a DM/storyteller saying to the players in a tabletop session "no, you can't do that thing that you should be able to by the rules in the book and/or common sense because then I'll have no story, just get in that corridor and start hacking things for gaia's sake, that's why you're here aren't you?". It practically defeats the whole purpose.

 

For my final example (so I finally stop rambling and side-tracking myself in my own off-topicness), game endings. Just contrast the way they're structured in fallouts 1 and 2 VS 3 and 4. The modular vs the pre-packaged. That's all I'm saying. And that's also streamlining.

 

My overall point being, if complexity for complexity's sake is something that should be avoided, maybe simplicity for simplicity's sake should too?? Or at least not dictate things where simplicity is not warranted or desired? Mechanical aspects shouln't be alienating, but in the same token human/social elements (I'll just throw the endings in this category too) shouldn't be binary and oversimplified. But they will, because as far as the stockholders and publishers are aware, not everyone will check out those 17 dialogue options and perk synergies and ending variations and whatnot, so let's cut some costs and use that money to make a real-size pipboy for the collectors! $$$

 

For those who are interested in this, this guy offers some insight on the dialogue stuff, among other things. Highly suggest it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqkZXNZwZq4

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Thank you, DenialSpiral, for helping clarify what I meant. I'm not against making things easier to run but how publishers have gone overboard. For example, I hate how SR4 took magical traditions and turned them into cookie cutter molds, turned otaku into technomancers that are just "Awakened for the Matrix," and standardized both deckers and riggers into the same damn things practically. They got rid of the flavor of these professions in the name of easier play by going the "simplicity for simplicity's sake" route.

 

It's the same thing with Failout 4 (apt name, Failout). Things were so simplified that there is no complexity at all. If that's what's popular and in demand, then that's fine. I wish them luck and good gaming.

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Thank you, DenialSpiral, for helping clarify what I meant. I'm not against making things easier to run but how publishers have gone overboard. For example, I hate how SR4 took magical traditions and turned them into cookie cutter molds, turned otaku into technomancers that are just "Awakened for the Matrix," and standardized both deckers and riggers into the same damn things practically. They got rid of the flavor of these professions in the name of easier play by going the "simplicity for simplicity's sake" route.

 

It's the same thing with Failout 4 (apt name, Failout). Things were so simplified that there is no complexity at all. If that's what's popular and in demand, then that's fine. I wish them luck and good gaming.

 

The big thing I think I was getting at is that none of this is actually what streamlining means.  In game design terms, the definition I've come to know is "The removal of design elements that do not contribute meaningfully to the design.

 

We'll keep using Shadowrun since everyone seems to be familiar with it.  The changes to the magic system?  That's certainly not streamlining.  It makes things a bit simpler (and arguably a lot more flexible, since the designers no longer need over 100 pages dedicated to new traditions) but it's explicitly not about removing ultimately meaningless options.

 

Personally, I would probably have worked a merits/flaws system in there to give a greater degree of distinction - every tradition needs X points of flaws to start, additional ones can be used to add specializations.  Traits like "Can't bind spirits" or "-X to Y spells" applied to all casters from a given tradition.  The idea is more solid than you give credit for, but with a few more choices it could have covered the ground SR3 did.  Better, if could have done so in about 10 pages rather than roughly 100.  Instead we got about 6 pages that made magic a lot more generic.  

 

For Fallout 4, a lot of what they did was an attempt at streamlining, but the end result is that they removed almost all of the meaningful choices along with the ones they were going for.  A fix might be to take the damage-for-weapon-type perks and rework them to make those weapons work differently (and better) while making damage improvements a function of level.  The skill system didn't need to go or stay, but it was carrying some of the design weight, and simply cutting it out and putting it on the perks system just resulted in removing effective perk choices from the player (since the damage perks are practically obligatory at around the levels they become available.)

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Eversince Daggerfall, Bethesda moved more and more away from giving the player a unique experience, and ever more towards giving the player a nice backdrop to play in.

The backdrops got nicer with every play, but the experience and the tools to create that experience? Eh, who cares! Look we're 64-bit now!

If it wasn't for the *modders* spending time and effort to place additional tools and experiences in the hands of the player, to actually make use of all those nice backdrops and keep the players' interest, modern Beth games would have a lifetime of maybe 3 months. Probably even less.

 

And that is why New Vegas is still so highly acclaimed. Obsidian had a good focus on giving the player memorable experiences. The backdrop was nice, but their focus was more on entertaining the play than on beautifying the backdrop.

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Thank you, DenialSpiral, for helping clarify what I meant. I'm not against making things easier to run but how publishers have gone overboard. For example, I hate how SR4 took magical traditions and turned them into cookie cutter molds, turned otaku into technomancers that are just "Awakened for the Matrix," and standardized both deckers and riggers into the same damn things practically. They got rid of the flavor of these professions in the name of easier play by going the "simplicity for simplicity's sake" route.

 

It's the same thing with Failout 4 (apt name, Failout). Things were so simplified that there is no complexity at all. If that's what's popular and in demand, then that's fine. I wish them luck and good gaming.

 

The big thing I think I was getting at is that none of this is actually what streamlining means.  In game design terms, the definition I've come to know is "The removal of design elements that do not contribute meaningfully to the design.

 

We'll keep using Shadowrun since everyone seems to be familiar with it.  The changes to the magic system?  That's certainly not streamlining.  It makes things a bit simpler (and arguably a lot more flexible, since the designers no longer need over 100 pages dedicated to new traditions) but it's explicitly not about removing ultimately meaningless options.

 

Personally, I would probably have worked a merits/flaws system in there to give a greater degree of distinction - every tradition needs X points of flaws to start, additional ones can be used to add specializations.  Traits like "Can't bind spirits" or "-X to Y spells" applied to all casters from a given tradition.  The idea is more solid than you give credit for, but with a few more choices it could have covered the ground SR3 did.  Better, if could have done so in about 10 pages rather than roughly 100.  Instead we got about 6 pages that made magic a lot more generic.  

 

For Fallout 4, a lot of what they did was an attempt at streamlining, but the end result is that they removed almost all of the meaningful choices along with the ones they were going for.  A fix might be to take the damage-for-weapon-type perks and rework them to make those weapons work differently (and better) while making damage improvements a function of level.  The skill system didn't need to go or stay, but it was carrying some of the design weight, and simply cutting it out and putting it on the perks system just resulted in removing effective perk choices from the player (since the damage perks are practically obligatory at around the levels they become available.)

 

 

Ah. So ka. I agree that the magic system in SR3 could have been better, but it was still a solid system compared to SR4 and I haven't even bothered with SR5 so I can't comment on that.

 

Also agreed with Failout 4. I guess I'm still hung up on how Todd Howard making it into something he would like. As the director he had creative control and it's a matter of record that he cut out a lot of content slated for the core came. I don't know business, politics, or economics. I do know video games, video game design, and RPGs. This turkey shouldn't have been released until there was some actual content beyond shooting things up and a lackluster settlement building building system. They had two months where it was "done" and they were "debugging" it. I'm calling bullshit on both; there was no way they did proper debugging on a variety of systems and it certainly wasn't done in terms of being anything remotely RPG-like. And this from the same man who has directed TES since Arena. One of the most famous video game series worldwide. Has he lost touch with what makes games? Is this some sort of cruel joke to be finished with DLC (very likely)? Or does he just not care anymore?

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My disappointed points of FO4 are many, but they place the characteristics of the character was also disappointed the extremely irresponsible.

Certainly to not be involved in the game story, but something just imagine without also be viewed in many cases directly, was not this the FO3 of at least its previous work.

 

For example, Doctor Stanislaus Braun, is Betty in the game in the super-genius scientist, his Int and Per is 10, a character that may be comparable is PC only, James nor Madison Li Int was only 8.

 

In FO4? Father, leader of the Institute is Human Race (Base Int = 0), Citizen Class (Base Int = 4), Charactor Property of value = 0, it Int = 4 In total. And what in his wonderful clothes of effect Int also become 6.

What about whether the NPC of the other FO4, uneducated former slaves of drug addiction, Cate, but her Int = 7. Dogmeat? He is proud of the Int = 9. How about becoming a researcher of the Institute?

 

Madison Li belonging to the Institute is now, Justin Ayo of SRB, on the other, Alan Binet, Dr. Clayton Holdren, Dr. Dean Volkert, they are Human Race (Base Int = 0), Bloatfly Class (Actually Bloatfly Class. Base Int = 0), Charactor Property of value = 0, In total Int = 0. 0?

Only Dr. Allie Filmore only'm Courser Class since Int = 1. She seems good can specially among scientists of Institute.

All Blood Bug and Sting Wing also has a Int = 2 at a minimum. I think we had better bred in mosquitoes to effectively research in that luxurious facilities?

 

I thought this was very bad. It was over to make, maybe did not have time.

But what was not even time to make a Bloatfly Class instead Scientist Class? So I do not think. Such a thing is whether or not it will not be thinking was good even.

 

PS: sorry for my googlish.

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I think many people like you guys do more thinking about beth games than beth does. Look how they just shoehorned a bunch of other games into F4 and called it done like sims, borderlands, and so on. The marketing team had a simpsons episode style meeting with the rest of the gang there and said blah blah sims borderlands x amount $ in so many months and some head jerk stood up and said do it now I'm off to play golf! and that was it nothing else thought about just bullshit shot across a board room table and done.

 

I am certain we can expect more crap games from just about every publisher in the near future why? things are changing for the worse in the world like big time change for one thing the energy sector. The stuff going around now about different kinds of fusion reactors that produce far less radioactive waste that only has a half life of ten years instead of 500 or more. They call them doughnut reactors and they can reach 500 million degrees inside. Right now they don't produce energy but later they will and they will get smaller and smaller until we have some fallout looking stuff running our homes instead of power lines and gas lines.

 

War is on the horizon and govts around the world are hunting money like crazy. If any of you know what capital flow analysis is then you get the idea because china follows it as well as other major countries. Money is moving to the other side of the world and leaving US and EU while war is moving into the middle east like crazy. This makes it really hard for big companies to make money and their advisors are telling them to screw us hard and run away later. All these big time people at big companies are thinking the same thing, get that money then move it into something else far away and get out with your family later on. How many people stuck around after the first three years of maximus the 1st rule of rome? not many since millions left rome by then.

 

History will always repeat itself we will never escape it we are doomed to be stupid and behave like a broken record so history is a map of where we are going not just where we have been. These "people" running these companies don't give a dam about anyone or the things they make only to a point where they are following laws and regulations about what something can't do thats it. They want that money and don't care how they get it just get it now and get it fast like call of bathroom break does every dam year.

 

What do we have left coming out this year? another deus ex will it have that horrible homeless black lady stereotype this time? What about that dumb ending will it be there too? I honestly don't think they care what people say or think the only thing they care about is money. They know most people will still buy it even if it is a turd sandwich most people will even smile while eating it. They have learned from EA just exactly how to screw us over after buying us drinks at a sleazy bar.

 

I just don't see any real excitement coming from this industry anymore just more money grabs and the crap going on in the world is getting bigger and bigger. The worse it gets and the more it changes the less real good paying jobs there are going to be and the more people there will be. None of this will end well and the last thing on most peoples minds these days is playing video games. I have to wonder just how small we as concerned deep thinking pc gamers are as a group in the big pond of shitty main stream gaming.

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What do we have left coming out this year?

 

Dark Souls 3, I'm fucking excited. And then there is the Geck, aww shit. New generation of sandbox modding. My gaming future is looking bright af.

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I can't stand the whole dark souls story thing it just doesn't make any sense. I tried part 1 and those two giant assholes flying around a room kept sitting on me til I died. I checked out on the web how other people beat them was to shove all their points into DEX basically the in game equivalent of crack cocaine and just ruin their characters to beat one boss level. The hell with that shit and the controls were shit anyway. I don't expect anything less annoying from part 2 or 3. The company that makes these games "from software" what a stupid name, could have done a lot more with the armored core series and brought it to pc but instead left it to rot on consoles kind of like how crapcom has basically just sat on the dino crisis series and not cared about it one bit.

 

They have some great game ideas they could do something with but don't and the things they do make are weird and come close to some form of torture that people are willing to pay for. I think their only real competition is your local dominatrix for hire lol.

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Nah. Deus Ex 1 has ones but it's the best PC game ever.

Well, it's a landmark game certainly. For best game ever it has to compete with System Shock 2 (also a Warren Spector game - better mechanics but arguably inferior story), Civ (the original is probably still unmatched in terms of what it does, although you might want to consider Civ 2 or Master of Magic) and the other big contender is probably Morrowind.

 

But yeah, I won't take a thing away from Deus Ex. One of my all time favourite gaming moments was standing upstairs at the Lucky Money nightclub in Hong Kong and arguing politics with the barman - because I found the discussion interesting. I mean how often does that happen? Just wow.

 

 

Family ties is not the problem but the Emil Pagliarulo is. I assure you, if it was done by CDProject or any other competent dev, we all will end up praising the storyline.

Mmmm. It does seem like they leaned heavily on the cheap sentimentality to paper over the holes in the actual storyline. I mean I deeply dislike the F4 setup and storyline but I can imagine it could have been powerful if done right.

 

That said ... I'm not sure Fallout was the best vehicle for this story. It feels like I went into the cinema to watch Mars Attacks, and when I got in there they were showing Terms Of Endearment. And when I go to complain the cashier says "what you complaining about? They were all wearing vault suits! What more do you want?"

 

 

I think it could have been done right if there had been more pauses in the main storyline. Everything storywise feels rushed, or in other parts the pacing is off. Someone might say that they ran out of time, but I doubt it. Not for the story. Or maybe the producer cut content that wasn't really meant to be cut.

 

An example. You start the game making your face. Run around the house for a bit, random baby cries and you're supposed to feel some connection to it. Nope. FO3 is not a good game by any stretch. But it gave time to get to know Liam Neeson somewhat. By comparison in FO4 you don't get to know people, you get rushed responses and bad scripting/AI bugging out. You run to shelter almost immediately after house-time. Get to the cryotubes ASAP because why not. Of course you can stick around longer, listening to the NPC's but why bother, it's not interesting. Quick cryo sequence follows, baby and spouse you hardly knew something something. Suddenly it's 200 years later - and for some reasons items work or don't work with no particular consistency. Can't even seal a roof or wall with I dunno - cardboard that's everywhere.

 

Anyway, let's get you some power armor and a big fucking gun because why not. Rush some more. Cue forward to rescuing Nick, of course there's no detective work involved - unlike in a rare example in a quest you can do for Nick. Magic dog appears out of nowhere, rush to marker. And so on.

 

This isn't just an issue with Bethesda, all major developers seem to think players want results immediately or want some big event to happen at specific times. RPG's, or kind-of-RPG's seem to think they're B-grade action movies without the mechanics to support it.

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 And this from the same man who has directed TES since Arena. One of the most famous video game series worldwide. Has he lost touch with what makes games? Is this some sort of cruel joke to be finished with DLC (very likely)? Or does he just not care anymore?

 

 

Actually I think Todd was just a tester during Arena. The Redguard expension had him as a designer I think. He's been in charge fully only since Morrowind. But yeah, I don't know how you can go from Morrowind to Skyrim or Fallout 4 in less than two decades. Maybe the fact that Morrowind opened up a new revenue stream for them - consoles, which added in major marketing research and focus groups.

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