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News for Saturday, March 31, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 17:27

RPGVault and RPGCodex have both put up editorial-esque pieces that are interesting enough for us to post on. RPGVault speaks of core gamers vs casual gamers:

Interestingly, where casual gamers have been traditionally viewed as people who occasionally play solitaire on the computer, and core gamers are the select few who are really devoted to their games, we are now seeing these roles merge. Casual audiences are behaving like core gamers - playing longer, later, faster and demanding smarter games - and core gamers are enjoying less hardcore experiences, as demonstrated by the popularity of titles like Wii Sports and Guitar Hero. Our research suggests that casual gamers are starting to do what core gamers have done for years, adopt and grow communities around their favorite content experiences.
RPGCodex' piece entitled The Role We Don't Play is about contemporary narrative techniques in cRPGs:
Developers have been looking outside the medium and at others like cinema as a model to present immersive, "cinematic" experiences that try to tell a story - for this, they assume a game needs to emulate a movie in order to present a sense of narrative. However, including a cinematic sequence angle is akin to shoving a round peg inside a square hole; developers believe these non-interactive cutscenes played out by virtual actors are not only great simulacrums of movies, but that they are also doing a proper job of conveying characterization and plot advancement. The problem is that these cutscenes are taken out of their original context and lose the same sequential meaning they originally have in cinema; whereas a movie is composed of such segments to narrate a story, in a videogame these scenes often fail to narrate the main character’s exploits or expose the consequences of their actions and are presented in a way that actually breaks up the pace of gameplay and the flow of the story itself.
Link: RPGVault Sandbox on casual and core gamers
Link: RPGCodex: The Role We Don't Play

Spotted on RPGWatch.

News for Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 19:17

NMA is proud to present its own review of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., intended to give some extra focus to the game's RPG elements and its handling of the post-apocalyptic atmosphere.

Well, STALKER is finally here, after years in vaporware limbo; finally we get the chance to see if there really are three boobed women in Chernobyl. But how has it aged, how much is left of the RPG in it, and most importantly, is it good enough?

When GSC Game World, a Ukrainian developer, started making S.T.A.L.K.E.R. they pretty much intended the game to incorporate everything from Pac-man to GTA with a little Half-Life in the mix. All of this proved too much for them so the publisher, THQ, stepped in and the victims of the proverbial axe were the overly ambitious elements such as drivable vehicles, huge game world, survivalism elements like sleeping, eating (which is still there but is very basic), and seeking shelter.
Link: NMA S.T.A.L.K.E.R. review

Posted by Tannhauser - at 6:40

The Cult of Rapture Bioshock website has released their third community Q&A. Using questions culled from e-mail and their forums, the ever popular Ken Levine answers on a variety of topics.

Many people are worrying about the differences in controls and interface between the PC and 360 version of this game. How are you adapting the PC version to help make a gamer who enjoys shooters on PC feel at home with this game?
We have two separate teams working to make each set of gamers feel at home in BioShock no matter what sku they play. Remember our last game was a PC shooter. We’re customizing the controls and HUD for each version.

What other kinds of storytelling will you be using in BioShock, other than audio logs?
There’s about a zillion ways we tell the story of Rapture. The first, most important way is what you see. The rule was that every AI should tell a story. Even the dead are communicating a piece of the Rapture puzzle. For instance, a player might come into a bedroom and there are the corpses of a couple in a final embrace. They have the photo of young woman between them, and there are several bottles of pills on the nightstand. That’s a story.

Diaries are found everywhere in Rapture that might tell you about places in the city you’ve haven’t even seen yet. You might encounter a ghost like resonance of a victim, playing out their final moments of life. You might encounter desperate survivors, wheeling and dealing with you for one last chance to make it out of the city.
These Q&As are ongoing, so if you have a question you want featured, can ask it on the Cult of Rapture forums or send them an e-mail. You can also find the last two community Q&As here and here.

Link: The Cult of Rapture's third community Q&A.

News for Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Posted by Tannhauser - at 21:21

GSC Game World has released the first patch, version 1.0001, for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The patch addresses over sixty minor issues and crashes in both the single and multiplayer game. A few examples of things that have been fixed:

10. The host is able to pause the game during an MP game.
13. The user can speed up time with the * key on the numpad in SP
20. Players will take no fall damage when friendly fire is set to 0 on the server.
21. The player dies when trying to exit out of the skin menu back into gameplay.
53. Users are able to pick up an opponent's grenade after it has been thrown and then use it themselves.
The patch comes in two versions, one for the U.S. release, and the other for all other releases. Unfortunately, this patch isn't compatible with save games from the unpatched game.

Links:
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. US patch at FileFront.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. worldwide patch at Filefront.

Thanks to Serifan for pointing out this release on our forums.

News for Monday, March 26, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 17:13

Zaii sent us a transcription of a bit on Fallout 3 from May's PC zone UK. Not having scans, we can only offer the confirmation of PC Zone editor Will Porter that there is a bit about Fallout 3 in this PC Zone UK, but not if this transcription is correct. Nonetheless, hoping for later verification/scan, we offer you this text without any guarantees:

Title: Before the Fall
Bethesda's Pete Hines speaks out on the mixed emotions surrounding Fallout 3.

"We've said this before and we'll say this again: not everybody is going to agree with the game we are making: it's a solid-gold lock," exclaims a tired and emotional Pete Hines when we ask him about the forthcoming Fallout 3. He's just spent a long day plugging the hugely anticipated Oblivion expansion Shivering Isles and the inevitable query about Bethesda's 'other' RPG has reared it's head. "Some people will like it, some people will hate it, and they don't even know what we're doing yet!"

Few developers have been so honest in regard to a game's potential reception, but then again few developers have had to face a fanbase quite so rabid, rigid and (sad to say) repeatedly screwed over as those of the post- nuclear role-player. Hines, however, is insistant about how dedicated to the wastelands cause Bethesda truly are. "I have it on my laptop here, I play it on the road. We're all big fallout fans, we play Fallout, Fallout 2, we play the non-RPG ones, I mean, I play Fallout: Tactics, I played Brotherhood of Steel (the abysmal Xbox 'action' game)because I felt I had to give it a look. And I was sorry I did so.

"We feel that we're doing Fallout 3 having done one and two, even though we didn't. Much like the Elder Scrolls, we look at what worked, we look at what didn't; we look at where we want to take it, how to move it forward and keep it relevant. But we also want to stay true to the stuff people remember and took to heart in Fallout, which was the kinds of quests you did, the choices that were laid before you, the way the game would play differently depending on how you were role-playing and the setting...That sort of stuff."

You also shouldn't expect the lewdness of Fallout 2, as Hines reckons it got "a little too caught up in trying to be funny or controversial or whatever." Which is a shame as certain PCZONE staffers thought, choosing to be a low-paid fluffer at a post-apocaluptic porn studio, only to find the fluid exchange left them with a traditional RPG poisoning, the height of hilarity back in 1998. Whatever the case, the smart bets are for Fallout 3 to be a free-roaming, first-person action/RPG with more dialogue, violence and grit than the Elder Scrolls has ever seen.

Unconfirmed rumour has it that the game will take place on the America's east coast, rather than the original's iconic west, while promotional posters suggest that the franchise's cheery combination of optimistic 1950's propaganda and arid, desolate solitude will remain firmly in place. And what with the only other hope for Fallout being an extremely unlikely MMO being crafted (possibly) by the remnants of what was once gaming giant Interplay, it's safe to say that a lot is riding on its success. Internet buzz, meanwhile, is suggesting an official unveiling at some point this summer, perhaps at the revamped E3.

Hines, however seems to think it inevitable that no matter how happy bethesda are with their offering, there are bound to be murmurs of discontent from the more radiation-soaked parts of the Internet. "People will have to take it for what it is. If they like it, great, if they don't like it... Well some folks just aren't going to give it a chance out of the box. And you know what? That's your choice. If you don't want to give it a shot, there's nothing we can do about that..."
Update: This article is now verified, through CVG, where you can find a similar article posed online. Most of what Pete Hines is quoted as saying is there, though with different commentary.

Link: Pete Hines at CVG.

Thanks to VDweller for pointing this out.

Posted by Tannhauser - at 10:04

RPGCodex has posted another interview, only three hours after their last; and this time they feature Feargus Urquhart, founder of Black Isle and CEO of Obsidian. The interview has done a good job of covering the interesting segments of Feargus' career: the heyday of Black Isle; the downfall of Interplay; and past, present, & future of Obsidian. Fallout earns a brief mention at the end, but the entire interview is an interesting read for a RPG fan.

16) Our final question: having been previously connected to the development of the Fallout series, what do you feel about Bethesda acquiring the license – and the fanbase? Were you disappointed or relieved that you didn't get the license? After all, you can be quoted as once having said that that "Fallout fans are the worst".

They are the worst! Smile However, I am disappointed that we won't be able to make anymore Fallouts. While there has always been arguments about who was really responsible for Fallout and I've always said that Tim, Leonard and Jason are principally responsible for a lot of what the original Fallout was about, I also know the amount of creativity, time, energy and love that I put into both Fallouts. I hold Fallout really close to my heart and if there was a chance at some point to make another one, I would jump at it.
Obsidian also has an intriguing Aliens RPG in development, though outside NMA's scope.

Link: Feargus Urquhart interview at RPGCodex.

Posted by Brother None - at 3:37

RPGCodex has conducted an interview with four indie RPG developers (Jason Compton (The Broken Hourglass), Thomas Riegsecker (Eschalon: Book I), Steven Peeler (Depths of Peril) and Vince D. Weller (Age of Decadence)). One of those (AoD) being a post-apocalyptic RPG makes it of interest to us, but beyond that this is an interesting how-to and who-is-who of indie RPGs. On AoD:

I dislike traditional "welcome to the magical kingdom of Fantasia, please stop the ancient evil that's threating us again and go all "THIS! IS! SPAAARTAAA!!!" on their asses" fantasy settings, presenting or focusing on external Evil That Must Be Stopped vs internal Good That Must Be Saved conflicts.

I wanted to show you something different, something darker, something brutal and often ugly. I wanted to show a society, comparing to which any external evil is tame and even welcome to finally wipe the slate clean. Going post-apocalyptic to get rid of the artificial layers of civilization and good manners was the best option, in my opinion. It made it easier to set up numerous conflicts that paint the background for quests and side-taking.

(...)

We have the main quests, helping you get to your main goal, and we have side quests, of course. RPG Vault posted an article recently, dealing with side quests, so you can get some info there. To tell you something new, although the main quest is non-linear, factions side quests are linear, presenting well designed stories. You will be given options to switch sides and to stop one storyline and switch to another. You won't be able to finish one and start another though. To give you an example, playing the Imperial Guards storyline, you - among other guards, of course, you are not "teh chosen one", will be tasked to stop a barbarian army recruited by Lord Gaelius to strengthen his position. You can either go through several quests to stop the army, showing your loyality to the Imperial Guards and continuing their storyline or you can recognize a good opportunity to switch sides and help the army to arrive to Maadoran, continuing to play for House Aurelian from that point on.
Link: Interview with indie RPG developers on RPGCodex

News for Sunday, March 25, 2007

Posted by Tannhauser - at 1:39

Ken Levine, Creative Director of Irrational, has been busy with the gaming media lately. Two weeks ago IGN uploaded a trailer showing off the Medical Pavilion section of Bioshock, and yesterday Levine returned to explain a bit about that area in a short interview.

IGN: In the video, we read a spray-painted poster that reads "Aesthetics are a morale imperative" under a sign that reads Doctor Steinman's "Aesthetic Ideals" and a picture of a woman with a "before" and "after" face. Aesthetics have clearly gone wrong in Rapture the same way that so many people assume Hollywood actors and actresses should have perfectly honed physiques and altered breasts and faces in American movies. Is there a particular part of the story that deals with aesthetics or is this just one more facet of Rapture's society that's gone wrong? And could you fill us in on the doctor's role in it all?

Ken Levine:
I don't want to spoil too much about Steinman, but I will say you learn a lot about him. One of the great things about BioShock is that while it is a first-person shooter to the core, for players who love story there's an incredibly rich story there for those who want to experience it.

Dr. Steinman, as he starts going crazier, takes over the whole medical area. You hear his diaries: "Why am I trapped within normal interpretations of beauty? Why can't I be more like Picasso?" He wants to be allowed non traditional, even cubist interpretations of beauty. Eventually he starts walking down the hallways, thinking he's talking to Aphrodite about beauty. And you follow this descent into insanity. You hear about his descent, you see it on the walls. Eventually you come across his surgery theater and encounter him operating. He's not happy to see you. That's like a subchapter in the story of BioShock.
Additionally, Ken Levine did a more general interview at Eurogamer a few days ago, and Eurogamer also received their own teaser trailer of Bioshock.

Links:
IGN's Bioshock interview.
IGN's Bioshock video page.
Eurogamer's Ken Levine interview.
Eurogamer's Bioshock trailer.

Spotted at RPG Watch.

Posted by Tannhauser - at 1:15

The team for New Dawn has updated their FAQ, with questions collected from their forum and e-mail sent to them. Several excerpts from their lengthy FAQ:

Which games can the New Dawn be compared to?

It's hard to answer that question well, nonetheless storyline and narrative bring to mind games like Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment. The same goes for developing a group. As far as the general looks go, some elements are similar to Titan Quest: Immortal Throne.

How are you going to combine fantasy and the postapocalyptic vision?

The game shows quite a special world after a great disaster. Human kind declined so tragically that superstitions and new religions took over people's minds. Evolution caused different populations to adapt to new conditions. Accordingly, there appeared some elements that resemble fantasy to a casual gamer. However, their existence is justified and well documented. The plot will explain many of the questions a player will dare to ask when playing the New Dawn.

What type of combat will the game utilize?

There are two distinct combat systems. Turn-based one is designed for tactics lovers and the real-time one will satisfy action aficionados. This way, players will play the style that appeals to them.
The New Dawn team also invites any new questions to be addressed on their forums.

Link: New Dawn FAQ

Thanks to Sethergal for bringing us the news.

News for Saturday, March 24, 2007

Posted by Tannhauser - at 8:55

It has been a while since we have reported on the regular newsletters from the Fallen Earth team. For the last six issues the newsletters have been examining the in-game factions and the relationships between them. Each newsletter has taken the point of view of a faction member, and explained that faction's worldview and it's relationship with all of the other factions. The latest newsletter covers the last remaining faction, the Techs, who are obviously interested in technology.

Like the other Techs, I'm a pragmatist. That's a fancy way of saying I like things that work, things that make sense, and people that aren't idiots. This last point is important, because there are a lot of idiots out there. And idiots like to talk. If you're nodding with me, that's a good sign that you're not one of them. Even so, I bet you've heard their talk. Talk about how Techs mistreat and abuse mutants, how Techs keep technology from people in need, and how Techs have an obsession with destroying the environment. Before I address these accusations, let's consider their sources for a bit.

The CHOTA. Yeah, I know, I'm starting with an easy one. I just feel it's important to detail how a group of half-naked savages wielding parking meters might not be a reliable source of information. I mean, it's not like I have a problem with them shoving pointy metal shards into their skin or that their names all sound like medieval diseases. I just resent that they accuse my colleagues and me of running horrific experiments on mutated humans.
Like the majority of the previous faction newsletters, a sample of Tech music is also included.

Links:
Newsletter #6: Enforcers
Newsletter #7: Children of the Apocalypse, and sample CHOTA music.
Newsletter #8: Lightbearers, and sample Lightbearer music.
Newsletter #9: Travelers, and sample Traveler music.
Newsletter #10: Vistas, and sample Vista music.
Newsletter #11: Techs, and sample Tech music.

Spotted at FallenEarth.se.

News for Friday, March 23, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 16:38

Thought the post-apocalyptic movie genre brought forth only good Mel Gibson films? Think again. Ewokmic has started a movie review site exclusively for PA films, and boy is he stumbling upon some old beauties, as the entire 80's is filled with classics such as Empire of Ash, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Battletruck and many more. Worth a look for PA movie fans (as it also includes actually good films like Children of Men or Escape from New York) or people just looking for a amusingly bad movies.

Link: post-apocalypse.co.uk

News for Thursday, March 22, 2007

Posted by Silencer - at 18:45

So check if your family's Water Chip is firmly lodged into its Expire-o-Socket and let's look at the Fan Art we've been receiving over autumn and winter...

Disclaimer: The administrator's (mine) choice of art is purely subjective and does not neccesarily glow back at you in the night.

Rost shows us what the Arroyo Temple would look like if it was ever made into a movie set




Woozsky my man is continuing his series on fine wastelandish craftsmen... of death! Also, Banshee Walkers.




ArtMedia Group from Ukraine sent us this render:



Diarmada is making things to use on your website, blog or backpack



habitbraker might get hooked up on drawing Power Armors:



jointheiso made me laugh, and that's what counts.



Morpheus has been for a spa treatment in Shady Sands recently and sent us postcards.



Wooz says the Ink is powerful with darksoulcamel (check out the Gallery for more).



According to Red-Ryder Fallout is the SHIZNIK! (not f*cking tho')



In Phomax we trust.



Bewitched is proud to fly the banner of the New California Republic



Also he found this wallpaper while surfing the net. Pretty impressive, he must say and I doubleplusconcur.



And with those two I officially bestow the Fortune Finder Perk on Morpheus (not his though)


That's all for today, thanks go to our forum ghouls. Alas, make sure you check out Azrael-Arkangels thread on Metal Slug sprites turned Fallout, The Idiot's Waste Dump (tm), SpeaK's ambient music threads or the movie "Please Stand By" available for download. As well as the rich rest of the Fan Art Forum and Fan Art Gallery.

Links: Fan Art Forum, Fan Art Gallery, Upload your Fan Art.

News for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 15:38

Bethesda retitled their forums from the Elder Scrolls forums into the Bethesda Game Studios forums. Briosafreak notes the following:

From Ashley Cheng’s blog, Bethsoft producer:

This is a subtle change but we’ve rebranded our forums. Instead of just being the official Elder Scrolls forums, its now called the Bethesda Game Studios forums.

Notice that the tags for this post are Oblivion and… Fallout 3.

I think you can connect the dots.
Link: BethSoft forums

Addendum: Ashley Cheng removed the Fallout 3 tag with the note "whoops. not supposed to have oblivion or fallout 3 tag. I fixed it." We can still assume renaming it from ESF to BGS is a step towards hosting a Fallout 3 forum there someday, but that's not too surprising.

Posted by Tannhauser - at 4:03

The publishers of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., THQ, have today issued a press release officially announcing that they are shipping S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to stores in North America.

AGOURA HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 20, 2007--THQ Inc. (NASDAQ:THQI) today announced that critically-acclaimed S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has shipped exclusively for Windows PC. Offering a unique combination of First-Person Shooter (FPS) and Survival-Horror action, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl gives gamers unprecedented freedom to explore the devastated exclusion zone that surrounds the Chernobyl power plant following a second apocalyptic explosion. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl is now available at retail outlets nationwide for the suggested price of $39.99.
The North American release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has been accompanied by a flood of reviews over the past few days. The general consensus seems to be that the game is quite good, though it is held back by some unpolished elements. While the environment and world of the game are highly regarded, the story is generally thought to be weak and the game apparently is somewhat buggy. Several reviewers state that though this game is not for everyone, many players will thoroughly enjoy it. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has had the fortune to have been awarded a score of 80% or above by every English review so far.

New S.T.A.L.K.E.R. reviews:
Gamespot's review - 8.5/10
IGN's review - 8.2/10
CVG's review - 8.0/10
EuroGamer's review - 8/10
bit-tech.net's review - 8.5/10
Boomtown's review - 9/10
TrustedReviews' review - 8/10
GamePro.com's review - 4.25/5
The print magazines PC Format and PC Zone UK have also reviewed S.T.A.L.K.E.R., rating the game 93% and 85% respectively.

Link: THQ's S.T.A.L.K.E.R. press release.
Spotted at Blue's News, Oblivion-Lost, and GameRankings.

Posted by Tannhauser - at 2:43

The long developed Fallout 2 mod, Fan Made Fallout, has posted a short new update after several months of quiet. Of major interest is the promise that the project will produce a demo by the end of this year, or will presumably disband.

Long time, no progress update. Probably because there hasn't been much progress to update. As always we are slowly grinding our way towards somewhere. It's just not easy to tell when we'll get there.

However, we do have one promise we can make. There will be an FMF demo out before the end of 2007. If there's not, it means there won't be an FMF.

Since the last update, we've had a bit of fresh blood but a number of old-time members have called it quits for various reasons. We wish all our old members the best and hope our new one's can make up for their loss. Only time will tell.
Exciting news. I am confident they wouldn't be adverse to any dedicated people who would like to join the project and help it along.

Link: Fan Made Fallout.

News for Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 14:28

Mentioned several times, spotted in the referrer list several times, but now finally (with a reminder from Bulhakov) it's about damn time we give a front-page nod to Falloup Online, a MMOmocking comic drawing out events as they would happen in the generally despised idea of Interplay's Fallout Online, while also mocking the normal MMO conventions (half-naked women, bad roleplaying, stupid quests).

Link: Falloup Online

News for Sunday, March 18, 2007

Posted by Tannhauser - at 0:26

Computer & Video Games have just concluded a three-part and week spanning interview with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. senior PR manager Oleg Yavorsky. While not providing any new information, it does provide a good overview of the game's current design and goes in-depth about certain features and developer decisions.

What can you tell us about the game's RPG-style elements?

Yavorsky:
As opposed to the modern understanding of the RPG term, we tried to focus on the classic role-playing side of the matter, i.e. each player can play a certain role of his liking in the game. The key idea is, as in real life, by playing a certain role in the game you will provoke the correspondent reaction of the surrounding society. For example, being greedy, helpful to stalkers in need or being evil to everyone will affect the reactions and attitude of other NPCs in the game. Moreover, the way you play the game will affect the ending you reach.

Among other standard RPG elements are communication with NPCs, inventory with item management, item trading and exchange, collecting information and more. What the game doesn't provide for, though, is level-ups - the player will have to develop skills of his own, rather than those of his character in the game.
An interesting hint towards multiple endings.

GameSpot also has a three-page interview with the popular Oleg Yavorsky, asking many of the same questions and receiving similar answers. The GameSpot interview does follow up on a few trivial specifics, such as the in-game PDA, but contains no important new information.

Links:
Part one of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. interview at CVG.
Part two of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. interview at CVG.
Part three of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. interview at CVG.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. interview at GameSpot.

News for Saturday, March 17, 2007

Posted by Tannhauser - at 20:44

For this past week, IGN has been counting down a number of "Top 25 Games of All Time" lists, for various consoles and the PC. Based on criteria such as the overall quality of the game, the impact on the industry, and how enjoyable it is today, Fallout was ranked the fifth best PC game of all time. It is the highest RPG on the list, ahead of Oblivion (#16) and Baldur's Gate II (#7).

Fallout really had it all: dynamic, believable characters; a quality of narrative and storytelling too rarely seen in games; and the opportunity for players to drastically affect how events proceeded. It was a game that above all else recognized and rewarded the player's free will. Fallout's fiction and game world were vivid, it's character development system deep, and it possessed an often hilarious tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Peering past the post-apocalyptic science fiction surface, deeper cultural themes become apparent, echoing notions of humanity's absurd fallacies hit on in novels like Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz. Though games like Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Planescape: Torment and plenty of others are all worthy of the PC RPG crown, this 1997 release from Interplay is our choice for the top of the heap.
I would describe Fallout's humor as 'often subtle dark comedy,' perhaps they are thinking of Fallout 2.

Link: Top 25 PC Games of All Time at IGN (Fallout's listing is on page 3).

Posted by Tannhauser - at 7:27

Fallen Earth, a post-apocalyptic MMORPG under development, made an appearance at the recent Game Developers Conference. This has resulted in some press coverage, including an supposed interview with MMORPG.com, a preview at Ten Ton Hammer, and another preview at Killer Betties. There a few bits of information that might stir interest in this game. The Killer Betties preview hints at a focus on story, an unusual trait in a MMORPG.

Story looks to play an important role in Fallen Earth, an area where many MMORPG games fail. Yes, they'll give you a sprinkling of the overall game world, but nothing really definitive when it comes to a complete, beginning to end narrative. In Fallen Earth, however, narrative seems to always drive you forward. You wake up in a tube, get killed by zombies, and yet you are revived just seconds later and aren't dead? You just know after experiencing that you'll want to see what comes next.
The Ten Ton Hammer preview also explains about the developer's goals in quest design.
Hammock explained that one of their design emphases was to make branched quests, where you don’t have to do the very linear questline with a shady NPC just to get the experience. “If you think he’s going to stab you in the back, you can work through an alternate quest to maybe stab him in the back first.” It’s great in theory, perhaps complicated in implementation, but its storyline nuances like this that, if carried out, will make Fallen Earth a must-play for anyone who cut their RPG teeth on games like Fallout.
The branching quests could be quite good, if implemented correctly. Together with a strong narrative, it could make an interestingly different MMORPG.

Links:
"Interview" with MMORPG.com.
Preview at Ten Ton Hammer.
Preview at Killer Betties.
Spotted at Blue's News and FallenEarth.se.

News for Friday, March 16, 2007

Posted by The Vault Dweller - at 22:23

As you may know No Mutants Allowed covers things of interests to Fallout fans such as great RPG examples and post-apocalyptic entertainment. Recently two sources of interest came up one being almost completed and one just beginning.

A small Austrian game developer has announced a May date for the release of a new post-apocalyptic RTS called Sunage. The game doesn't have true 3-D, but instead use isometric models like those of Fallout 1 and 2. I'm very surprised to hear of such a well-developed game that's been in development over two years. Check the site for some screenshots that show it's level of development to see.

Mad Max 4 may come into being. It seems the director George Miller, who also started with the first movie, mentioned that he'd like to make the fourth sequel, but this time Mel Gibson won't be the star due to his old age. Will they find a suitable replacement? I can only they find someone who's good at looking gritty and worn.

I offer my thanks on to shokki_ of the forums for reporting on Mad Max 4 and Tater Po of the SunAge forums for the info on SunAge.

Sincerely,
The Vault Dweller

News for Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Posted by Silencer - at 20:03

And of what? Ah yes, the famed Arthur the Trainee Raider, comissioned by Bethesda from Jonah Lobe

Too fair and not enough hair, but keep in mind it was for trial purposes only.

Link: Thread @ ZBrushCentral

Thanks Monsharen!

News for Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Posted by Silencer - at 23:16

Well, well, well, how I like it when promising projects get an easy to google, remember and track web addy, which is the case with Pocket Fallout, as we are told:

Some people asked if the Pocket Fallout project is still alive?
We are glad to answer: Yes! Yes! It is alive and will be always as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is.

The devs have implemented many changes and are working hard to finish all the features which they want to see in the game. As I have been recently informed you will have a chance to play a full new Fallout game on your PDA already this fall!

Why am I saying it right now? That's why: come and check our newly opened official website at
http://www.pocketfallout.net

There you will find all the news about the project, downloads, forums, game documents and editors. For those who are browsing with PDA a special lite-version of website is installed.

You are welcome!
Links: PocketFallout site, PocketFallout site lite

Thanks, Commando!

Posted by Tannhauser - at 22:49

Oblivion-Lost.de has reported on the first English S.T.A.L.K.E.R. review, by the magazine PC Gamer UK. The review spans six pages and gives the game an 87% rating. A few excerpts from the review have been transcribed on Oblivion-Lost.

"It's best described as a first-person shooter/roleplaying game/ survival horror hybrid, in that order... the horror is the thing that underlines the whole game. It's what makes it work. It's what makes it different."

"With all the screens of tentacle-monsters, you'd be expecting to see a lot more of them. In actual fact, monsters are rare. The vast majority of things you open fire on are fellow humans. This leads to a unique atmosphere in a PC science-fiction game, where the strange is strange... this refusal to simply collapse into sci-fi hokum gives the game that rarest of auras: credibility."

"The AI as a whole is bizarrely schizophrenic. When it's in a good mood, it's actually impressive."

"The character development is solely based on getting better equipment and selecting for use up to 5 of the artifacts you're carrying."

"It's: Enormous, buggy, atmospheric
It's not: The hype, nearly as buggy as you'd expect, monster-stuffed"
While many of the intriguing features promised have been cut, this review indicates that enough is left to make the game worthwhile. We will have to wait and see if this early, positive review plays true.

Link: All review excerpts at Oblivion-Lost.de

News for Monday, March 12, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 22:43

MIB88 has updated his megamod again, to include (from version 2.0):

-Addition of the Modoc Revisited mod
-Addition of the Vault 14 mod
-Addition of the Letter from the Past mod
-Expanded the size of the worldmap
-Numerous fixes with EPA scripts, dialogs and maps
-Several random crashes associated with previous releases corrected
-Fixed problems with Kaga
-Fixed problems with Lenny, Klint, and the new Skynet
-Some locations that were easily accessed now
-Freelance slavery. Male and female slaves can sometimes be taken of some of the critters in the wasteland
-the latest fixes by killap (11-27 release) have been added with the exception of the reactions of those in Arroyo
-miscellaneous weapon fixes
-Added a number of new load screens from various mods and Fallout 1
-many small bug fixes
Link: MIB88 megamod 2.1 on NMA
Link: MIB88 megamod thread on NMA

News for Saturday, March 10, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 17:22

While hoping for more interesting news from the Game Developer Conference, we couldn't skip over this fairly relevant panel on the viability of PC Gaming:

Since 2001, annual sales of PC games have fallen significantly. In 2006, of the top ten PC games, five were in Electronic Arts' Sims franchise. Sports games, simulations, and action games are, according to Edery, in "steep decline." Clearly, the reign of the big, triple-A boxed title is in jeopardy.

(...)

Capps, who has worked on Unreal Tournament titles as well as Gears of War, was bleak: "PC Gaming is really falling apart. It killed us to make Unreal Tournament 3 cross-platform, but Epic had to do it to [recap its investment in the production costs]."

Part of the problem is piracy. Big titles get stolen by cyber thieves, and it hurts revenue. "The market," said Capps, "that would buy a $600 video card knows how Bittorrent works."

Does that mean casual games, which exponentially outsell what PC gaming traditionalists think of as A-list titles, will one day rule? Hilleman made a point: casual is a poor choice of words. The average player on EA's Pogo "casual" game network plays "for 24 hours a week. There's nothing casual about that."
Link: coverage on ExtremeTech

Spotted on Blue's News.

News for Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 22:35

Colour me surprised...

Out of the ashes of Nuclear War, and an inability to finish a mod...

Mutants Rising returns!

Yes! When you saw this thread, you thought we were gone forever, didn't you? However, The Vault Dweller in fact predicted the future!

"I hope they saved all the data they made...who knows maybe if we host it here some nutcase/genius with lots of free time (maybe a high-school PC prodigy out of school for the summer) could pick it up and finish it?"

Well, as of a couple of weeks ago, Chris Parks, famed of The Modoc and Cold Hearts mod and many more, has joined our forum and has already made a start at putting things in order. We still have the bulk of our previous work, and with Chris's scripting ability, plus a new drive to do work, now that finishing the mod actually looks possible, things are already on the up once more. Another new addition to the team is MIB88 of the well known and loved MegaMod., With this sudden new intake, the demo is looking more and more likely - watch this space!

We are, of course, always in need of fresh talent. Particularly, at this moment in time, mappers. Any application hopefuls, head over to our forum.

The Futures Bright... the Future's Rising!
Link: Mutants Rising website

Thanks Mikey.

News for Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 15:36

Pete Hines was once again asked about Fallout 3 (and related topics) returning much the same answer as usual:

We don’t want to say that the combat works like this, or this is what the interface will look like… we want to point and say ‘there’ [points at imaginary TV screen], that’s what it looks like and it plays like that. It’s easier for us and it’s easier for you. It’s easier to explain to someone when they can see the game being played.

Even with Oblivion, it was the same thing – we prefer the showing rather than the telling.
360Gamer adds:
Although Hines wouldn’t be drawn on a date for the first public showing of Fallout 3, one of our insider sources let slip that it was likely to be during the new format E3 videogame tradeshow in July, if not before.
Link: 360Gamer talks to Pete Hines.

Thanks Briosafreak.

Posted by The Vault Dweller - at 4:56

A special treat for everyone today! If you've had the luck to play Half-Life 2 you know how great it is and perhaps you've tinkered with Gary's mod hoping to be an aspiring mod-maker or just having fun with your imagination. Well it seems one of the numerous fans of the game and mod utility put a substantial amount of time and effort into make an exact replica of Vault 15 with Gary's mod in Half-Life 2. See it here;

Vault 15 in first person done with the Half-Life 2 engine.

I'm thoroughly amazed at the quality of the graphics of the engine and also the creators obvious good use of the proper skins, colors, etc. to really make it nostalgic. I almost had flashbacks to the Fallout 1 introduction movie clip where you leave the Vault while watching this.

For those of you even interested in downloading this map it's called "cscdesert".

I thank Mareboro for reporting this to all of us at NMA.

Sincerely,
The Vault Dweller

News for Monday, March 5, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 22:42

FIFE's phoku has a nice little announcement and announces a nice little contest-esque:

With this milestone we have tried to lay out a map format that in it's inner workings will not change. The above wiki article will be your (the modders) source of how it should work. Anything that does not work like described there, is a bug. So do report it. The format is limited, but ready for extending it without breaking working maps. We also tried to lay the grounds for a resource system, that hopefully enables you to create your graphics (tiles,images) and objects to use them in your maps:

* Map format
* Archetypes

There are other changes in this jewel, but here is not the place to describe them in all details; please see the roadmap for that. Note that I have written this part in the past tense, but 2007.1 is not released yet. It will be released before the end of march, if nothing bad happens.

(...)

During the development of the 2007.2 milestone a GFX contest will be held. The idea is bring the community into play: you can send in your best looking isometric graphics and the FIFE team will take a look at contributions and annouce a winner after that. We plan to use the winner's gfx to create an example map for the 2007.3/2008.0 milestone and bundle it with it. Please see this blog, the mailing list and the related wiki page for more information about the GFX Contest.

Let's hope we'll see 2007.1 sonn, so you lot can get cracking on the contest.

Link: FIFE blog entry by phoku

Posted by Brother None - at 22:26

Lexx has released a short video showing his WIP Shattered Destiny mod. You can see it on Youtube here.

Link: Shattered Destiny homepage
Link: Shattered Destiny thread on NMA

News for Sunday, March 4, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 1:47

DaC-Sniper at DaC pointed out this test art with a note (an art test, not concept art):

This was done by me for Bethesda Softworks, as a kind of "art test"... they sent me an illustration of this character, and I had to design him in 3d. Hope you guys like it!

Checking it up, DeviantArt's ConejoBlanco 's real name is Jonah Lobe. And what does Ashley Cheng say about Johan Lobe in his blog (my highlight)?
Character Artists - Christiane Meister, Jonah Lobe, Gary Noonan. Christiane made the new armor and weapons. Jonah created the new Aeylid creatures you fight, and Gary get their animations working.
So looks legit, as an art test. But note that he doesn't claim it's for Fallout 3 anywhere, but with the title "raider" and the look of it, that looks very likely.

Link: Johan Lobe Raiders art test

EDIT: Bethesda Dev MrSmileyFaceDude notes:
When an artist applies for a job at Bethesda, they are often given a 2D drawing and asked to create a textured, 3D model, so they can show how well they can take concept art and turn it into 3D art. That's the kind of "art test" Jonah's talking about. It wasn't a proof of concept or anything like that.

News for Friday, March 2, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 21:19

While we have hardly been complete in our Bioshock coverage, I had to cover this article, mostly because of this:

BioShock, though, revolutionizes the relationships between you and your foes. Enemies mourn one another, go into a sulk when their partner dies - or, worst case scenario, go on a killing spree. One of the eeriest parts of BioShock is hearing the voice of a far-off splicer talking soothingly to their off-spring - and then turning the corner and realizing that her child has long since left the land of the living.

When your enemies are actually able to evoke emotions other than anger - of pity, disgust, sadness, empathy - then you begin to realize what the developers at Irrational mean when they say they’re creating an “AI ecosystem.” With around 30 to 40 inhabitants per area, you get the impression that anything could happen in this warped and warping Davy Jones’ Locker.
Sounds really cool, let's just hope "AI ecosystem" does not equate "Radiant AI".

Link: Bioshock preview on gamesradar

Spotted on RPGWatch.

Posted by Brother None - at 21:06

I didn't think I'd be saying this, but after 5 years (and, sadly, the cutting of some features), there's this:

We are pleased to announce that the game has gone to print! The project developed by GSC Game World over 5 long years has finally crossed the finish line.

We are sure that many of those, who discover the world of the Zone will "come down" with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for a long time. Soon anyone will be able to explore the world of the technological catastrophe and the unsolved mystery. Mutants, monsters and anomalies, enemies and comrades, dangerous fights and exciting missions await you!
Link: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. website.
Link: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. G.O.L.D. on Gamespot, with an audio from THQ exec Kelly Flock about the event and game.

Thanks Morpheus and Kein.

Posted by Brother None - at 3:51

Glittering gems of hatred has seeped unto several forums, and it now caught the eyes of the Gamers with Jobs' conference calls guys. From their conference call, minute 26:12 (sorry for transcribing word-for-word, GWJ guys, it's my revenge for your not linking to the article itself):

- But y'know what, though, like you were saying...you don't think it's a bad thing...and it isn't, to really be enjoying what it is you're doing, right? So if you're really enjoying a lot of the Xbox 360 games, then you're going to talk about how much you've enjoyed it and your experiences with it and hope people agree with you. It's when you take it to the extreme...with some of these characters, we've heard, talking about Vanguard and, I'm sure, many other different games out there.

- Oooh, I've got one (...) No Mutants Allowed, the Fallout fansite. There was a "gem of hatred article", which is what they do to discuss, this is a Fallout fansite, discussing Fallout fans. There's this kind of delusion of granduer that comes from being in that environment for so long and feeling like this marginal...it's like they had their own weird Holocaust when Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel came out to the X-Box. They had this weird victim thing and he actually talks about that. We'll link to it [you didn't - ed], it's actually pretty interesting stuff, but I want to read...he's adressing now, as a fan, Bethesda, because they're doing Fallout 3:

[he quotes the final paragraph of glittering gems of hatred]

- See, this is what I'm talking about. This is ridiculous! To be that involved in a game and one of the reasons I don't get so involved in this is because I hate hype...

[continue on 29:39]

- You really can't [win], and with fans, especially with the Fallout fans, who have just been beaten down by Interplay's poor handling so many times. Who are so, almost, broken, so over the top. We don't know *anything* about Bethesda and what they're doing for Fallout 3 yet, we don't know squat. And yet they are completely obsessed and they have this delusion that the fanbase of Fallout, and they talk amongst each other and have their own community (...), they feel like "We make or break this game", because our fandom is that big. (...)

- It's like when someone is cheering for their team and they feel that if they don't have the hat on and the sweatshirt on, they're not a real fan and their team will lose.

(...)

- A lot of the stuff, and we're talking about Fallout, is really just nostalgia. It's not that they actually give a crap about the next game, as much that they want to reclaim the last game.

- Don't you see, Alex, they want to have that same high they had when they played the first one.

- because he actually goes on and on about how the industry is obsessed with innovation and the real step forward would be taking a step back and using the old design style from the original game. That would be the real "innovation".

[sounds of dissent and disagreement, "that's not a fan, that borders on being a psychopath"]

- Oh, and Fallout fans, when this gets linked from your site and you want [to send] angry emails, I said a couple of episodes ago that I was worried about Bethesda handling Fallout [3], so don't send me emails
We won't.

Discuss.

Link: Conference Call 20 on GWJ

Posted by Brother None - at 2:49

The involuntary bankruptcy hearing of February 22 has been left undecided and a final decision postponed:

On February 22, 2007 a status conference was conducted by the Bankruptcy Court concerning the involuntary petition pending against Interplay Entertainment Corp. The status conference was continued to May 24, 2007.
Herve is buying some time. Meanwhile, words has reached us that there are multiple claimants in the lawsuit, and the amount asked of Interplay has been whispered not to be just the 60,000 asked by the employers, but a total of 750,000 USD in combined bills from several claimants. Herve will either have to drum up that money or win the case, otherwise the company will be declared bankrupt.

Link: 8-K filing on SEC.gov

News for Thursday, March 1, 2007

Posted by Brother None - at 19:07

From Cult of Rapture:

The headline says it all: BioShock's street date is August 21st. That's a Tuesday, for all you who might be planning your "sick" days in advance.

Let the countdown begin!
Link: Cult of Rapture news

Spotted on Blue's News.

Posted by Brother None - at 16:36

Our forum readers are mostly well aware of the prevailing rumours about Bethesda's Fallout 3. This has so far been ommitted from our frontpage, but now former NMA admin Rosh summarizes rumours he has been posting on the forums for the past few months. Gathered from unnamed developers according to him, posted here without any official affirmation of truth from us:

If you liked F:POS and think Oblivion is TEH GRATEST THING EVAR, then Fallout 3 is the game for you. Same lack of attention to setting, story, background elements, why the game was made the way it was, that we've dealt with since Chuck Cuevas. Instead of being a P&P-styled CRPG, you can fully expect Morrowind with Guns, and even though Googie doesn't fit the setting quite right (was more "art deco in ruins"), F:POS' use of Googie was described to me as "... would be better than some of the concept art and assets already created for Fallout 3". Much of the shit simply doesn't fit, including some cheap scratch marks and rust brushing akin to FOT, and some stuff that better belongs in Blade Runner. Which was good, but is by no means near Fallout.

Again, as per Bethesda's crappy development, primary development is for the X-Box, with PC as an afterthought. And if you thought the inventory and general interface was bad for Oblivion... Think of what Nival did to the panels and other functionality of HoM&M for Heroes V, and you'll see nearly the same thing for Fallout 3. After all, a status pane like the bottom of Fallout "gets in way of seeing the action", as I've heard about excuses for removing it.

Unashamedly stupid RT combat that will make Bloodlines combat look like genuine CRPG gameplay (as if we could expect anything else from Bethesda as of recent), same kind of roam as Oblivion, except from what I saw and was told, it's FP combat when firearms are brought into play much like Bloodlines. In other words, they're giving Fallout a near Dark Messiah treatment that Might and Magic enjoyed, but with a lot less kicking, probably about the same writing quality, and with 90% more industry newbies on the team. From what I was told up to November, they were still having fun learning about how to script speech trees, as those were considered to be "extra" from the start.

"We will do what we do best" indeed. Freaky Pete has spoken no truer words.
Link: thread on the RPGCodex

Posted by Brother None - at 1:10

This is for the people that argue that we're a dying site, elitist and stagnant.

January 2007 (134,072 unique visitors) beat the previous busiest month by a small margin (March 2006, 132,150), but February 2007 gave it a massive whalloping despite being only 28 days long at 146,610. For comparison's sake, February 2006 had 114,200, roughly a 30% increase over the year.

So, uhm...just sayin'?

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Wasteland 2 gets last beta update
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:27:50 GMT
Interview with Brian Fargo and our very own Brother None on Wasteland 2
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Underrail Development Log #52: Blood Sports
-Opening Analysis: Fallout
-AMA Q&A with Brian Fargo and Chris Avellone
-Wasteland 2 Interview with Chris Avellone and Brian Fargo
-Circle Junction
-Wasteland Kickstarter Project Interview with Brian Fargo
-The Origins of Fallout
-Afterfall: InSanity review
-Afterfall: InSanity preview
-Lonesome Road Review
-Old World Blues review
-Fallout2 Hi-Res Patch v4.1.5
-Fallout1 Hi-Res Patch v4.1.5
-Falloup, a Fallout Comic by 'Ten'
-WayDowntown V1.1
-FO1 bos grenades quest
-FO1_pistol_sound_patch
-Fallout FIXT
-Graphics Viewer v1.36
-RobCo Systems Beta 1.0
-S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Anarchy Cell Design Document
-Koan's Gift: Oblivion Lost Design Document Pack
-S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost Design Document
-S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Oblivion Lost Story Outline
-Uptown v1.4
-Fallout Script Editor 1.5a
-Mission Mojave Fixpack
-Garden Of Eden Creation Kit
-The Weapon Mod Menu
-The Mod Configuration Menu
-Interior Lighting Overhaul