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News for Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 20:55

We reported earlier on Bethesda's renewed motion for a preliminary injunction, which continued to focus on their (in my opinion ridiculous) argument that Interplay could only use the Fallout name. Unsurprisingly, Interplay counter-filed to shoot it down.

"For at least four years, Bethesda has known that Interplay interpreted its right to create the Fallout-branded MMOG to include copyrighted content from the Fallout universe in order to make the MMOG a recognizable Fallout game," the filing reads.

"Bethesda never objected and did not seek an injunction because it knew Interplay was doing exactly what the parties intended under their agreements," the document continues.

Interplay also takes issue with Bethesda's argument that a Fallout MMO would "confuse and confound" Fallout 3 players because of alleged plot conflicts between the games.

"This is ironic because Bethesda contends Interplay should have created an entire game of incompatible story, characters, and art and labeled it Fallout only in name," the document says.

Posted by troybilt - at 2:08

From the Interplay forums.

"Since April 2009, Interpay has mapped the MMOG environment including approx 65,500 square miles of in-game terrain."

"Textures, objects and characters have been implemented into the game environment. Base models for player characters and non-player characters have been created. The computer models for many types of creatures have also been designed and the 3D geometry and textures created. Several game zones have been blocked out, textured, and populated w/ 3D objects."

"The initial starting zones for each of the player character races have been designed."

"Many environmental object and weapons models have been created and textured. Some Non-player characters have been placed live in the game. Fallout Online combat, leveling, character development, item crafting, skills, and item stats were written prior to April 2009 and have been tested. Since April 2009, Interplay has refined and further developed its design regarding the funnctioning of player-run towns, social centers, and guild compounds."

"Interplay has created and continues to create additiional concept art and has created and continues to create player and non-player character concepts, names, characterizations, dialog and game scenarios. Quest content and design is ongoing and includes content and mechanics for multi-part intra-zone and dynamic world events and quests. interplay has created and written a large multi-part, game-worldwide meta-puzzle including the puzzle structure, code system, and planned locations, which is designed to foster cooperation and competition among players for an extended time period. Masthead continues to revise and improve its technology, including its game engine, tools, and network software for the specific development of the Fallout MMOG.

News for Friday, June 24, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 9:19

Will Ooi has done an interview with Fallout 2 and New Vegas designer Chris Avellone, and published part one on his blog, it is also mirrored on his Gamasutra blog for people - like me - who receive a 403 on his main blog.

WO: What are some of your favourite writing or design achievements in your career? A particular character or quest, perhaps?

MCA: I like the influence system (although not its first iteration in KOTOR II) as a way of making players pay more attention to a companion's philosophy and outlook rather than just Karma, although I prefer the individual NPC influence meters in Alpha Protocol as a more realistic and true-to-the-world feel for how others judge you based on your actions, not some internal player character moral barometer.

As for other experiments: The idea of disparate personalities being forced to cooperate under pressure when they normally would kill each other is something I've always liked. We used this in Fallout New Vegas, Dead Money, and it was an experiment I wanted to try ever since the Planescape days (although in Planescape, the idea would be that a group of hated enemies all had tattoos that prevented them from harming each other and straying too far from each other, and they had to cooperate to escape... sort of like the movie, Cube). Since Planescape wasn't an option, I switched it to a collar in Dead Money and went from there.

As far as characters, I've loved all the characters I've written for different reasons. I loved writing Rose of Sharon Cassidy (FNV, although Rachel Roswell voice-acted her and took her to a new level), Dean Domino and Christine from Dead Money (who shows up in more than one of the Fallout DLCs). For Christine, it was fun to figure out how to "write" a mute character, and the fact she switches voices over the DLCs is kind of interesting as well. I also have a lot of love for Ulysses in Fallout, only because I like the idea of someone hunting my player for reasons of his own, and then hearing the reasons why... and realizing how important even the smallest of my actions are for the people of the wasteland - living or dead.

WO: The RPGs of today have taken on a far more action-oriented approach, as seen through Fallout 3/New Vegas, Mass Effect 2, and Dragon Age 2. For you, what are the essential components that make an RPG an RPG?

MCA: Honoring the player's choices during character creation and advancement by having all choices given be viable tools to succeed in the game world, a world and its people that react and change based on your actions, and that reaction be meaningful for your characters and others. There's a treatise I could write for this - there's exploration, advancement, the ability to play the role you've built, customization, kill-and-loot feedback loop, and more, but the big points are above.

News for Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 22:21

As in, why isn't it being released in the indicated month of June, instead pushed back to July? Matt Grandstaff notes.

We've been working on a new title update to optimize the New Vegas experience, which contains a number of requested bug fixes (we'll have more on to release). We felt it was important to get that ready before releasing Old World Blues, and as a result, it's now coming in July instead of June.

When we have a finalized date for Lonesome Road, we'll share it with everyone.
If that sounds silly to you, remember that these have to go on Xbox and PS3, meaning they first have to have the patch run through certification, and then the DLC. If you want to blame anyone, blame the certification process, it seems the most likely culprit.

Posted by Brother None - at 17:05

Bethesda has finally announced the release date for the next New Vegas DLC, Old World Blues, though it's not coming anytime soon, seeing release on July 19th.

We’ve received plenty of inquiries asking when we’ll be releasing Fallout: New Vegas’s third DLC, Old World Blues. Today I can confirm the content will release on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on Tuesday, July 19th.

Prior to release, we will release a new title update for New Vegas. Along with adding support for Old World Blues, the update will bring improvements to performance and stability in major areas.

We’ll also be releasing a new trailer for Old World Blues in the coming weeks. I’ve already seen an early version, and it’s crazy awesome. Until then, today we’re releasing new screenshots on our Facebook or Flickr pages.

News for Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 9:35

Recently, gamesTM has put online an interview with Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart, and while that per se wouldn't be news-worthy, it goes without saying that he'd tackle some Fallout-related subjects.

Here's what Feargus had to say on New Vegas' bugs and deadlines:

Do you agree that maybe your end ship date was too ambitious for New Vegas, and that was the reason that it shipped with so many bugs?

You know, it’s hard to say. I think, as a developer, it’s not the end date that matters; it’s the dates prior to that. So, if we hit our vertical slice then it makes us really ready for production and then production goes more smoothly. If we then hit our alpha date, then everything after that is pretty much just bug polish, tuning and things like that, then it just guarantees that we hit our end dates and I think that is something that we as a developer, and others out there, all have to get better at. Because there are some dates that can’t be missed, you know.
And on Fallout Online:
Having previously worked at Interplay, and across the Fallout series, what’s your opinion of Interplay’s claim to the Fallout MMO?

To be honest, I have no idea. I had left Interplay before that deal and so I just don’t know anything. It was kind of one of those things where I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and go ‘la-la-la’, just because I didn’t want to know.

How well suited do you think the series is to online play in general?

Actually, I think it’s really well suited, I mean that’s the biggest thing. Ultimately, if you think about it, when you’re playing Fallout, it’s like you are playing in a big open world where you are going after mobs, playing Player-Versus-Environment. So it’s almost like you’re playing a PVE game but by yourself, so I think that the game really lends itself to having this big world. And, of course, how the IP works, crazy is normal, so you can have crazy stuff. Like when there is just some weird-ass guy researching Mole Rats in some corner of the world and he’s made Mole Rat Land, so I think that helps it as well. It’s a world where people expect to find the unexpected around the corner and so it just fits.
Feargus also goes on subjects like how it was to work on a new Fallout game, the dumbing down of RPGs in recent years and various Obsidian-related stuff in the full interview, making it a worthy read all around.

News for Monday, June 20, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 23:25

Until July 4th, Good Old Games is putting its entire Interplay catalogue on sale, each title 50%. If for some bizarre reason you do not own Fallout 1, 2 or Tactics (or were just looking for a cheap backup/replacement copy), here's your chance.

News for Saturday, June 18, 2011

Posted by Dude101 - at 18:23

This week we interviewed Chris Parks, creator of EPA, Primitive Tribe, Cold Hearts and project lead for Mutants Rising.

Who are you?
What can I say? I have a chemistry degree and am currently studying for a PhD in organometallic reactivity. I have written three novels with a couple more in progress. I am a perfectionist in every sense of the word, which is nowhere near as much of a gift as people seem to think! Several years of illness and family troubles have altered my personality greatly… but I’m still in there fighting.

What do you do outside of modding?
Outside of modding university tends to eat up a significant portion of my life. Other than that, I play snooker several times a week, magic the gathering. Read, write… etc. Typically whatever I fancy at the time.

How did you get into Fallout modding?
During my first year at University I suffered from glandular fever. My body was a mess, but my mind was sharp and active. I remember distinctly looking over the NMA forum at screenshots of F2 and seeing things I had not seen before. Now, I’d played Fallout enough to know that it no longer had any secrets from me and thus my first steps into modding were underway. With no programming experience at all… I downloaded all the tools and I was away.

What work are you most proud of?
It has to be MR without a doubt. My first projects, EPA and Primitive Tribe were poor offerings by someone who didn’t even have a good grasp of modding. MR has pushed me beyond anything I initially expected.

I also was impressed with the Modoc revisited project which was the first project that Dude101 and I worked on together. It’s poor reception made me think long and hard about taking on further projects.

Where do Fallout 1,2,3,NV rank in your all-time favorite titles?
I love Fallout 1, though I play Fallout 2 more often of the two. Tactics, for what it was, was a reasonable effort but not in the style of Fallout 1 or 2. It finds its way out of the cupboard on occasions, even if I do abhor its tedious linearity.

MR has been around since 2003, how many people have worked on the project up to now?
How many atoms are there on a beach? Who knows? MR was underway for several years before I inadvertently took over. Simple answer is many, many people. And at least 4 or 5 separate leaders for various reasons.

What are the challenges working on such a large project?
Initially, the project was spearheaded by myself and Dude101. We both discussed the storyline, but he wrote all the material and I covered the mapping and all the scripting. This actually made the project easier. We gave each other freedom to develop the project within certain guidelines.

More recently, the team has grown to a reasonable number which makes it harder. We have to regularly contact each other on certain issues, share the latest builds and generally make sure that we know what everyone is doing at any one time.

Even harder than that is getting people to work within a flexible timeframe when we all have careers, partners (at least some of the team have partners). This is one of the major challenges to overcome.

Furthermore, a larger team tends to make the design take longer to iron out than a small team. We take longer to discuss major issues before reaching a compromise that works for everyone.

How do you find the creativity to do this?
I’ve always had an imaginative and active mind, hence the novel writing. This. combined with a belief that I can do anything I put my mind to makes it relatively easy to attempt what is generally accepted as the impossible (even when technically it is improbable). This last few years have been harder to find the creativity (for various reasons), but luckily I now have a dedicated team that come up with the creativity – all I have to do is script them!

When the "Last Bastion of Hope" Fan Made Fallout died, MR took on that role. Do you feel the pressure of the community weighing down on you to produce a great game?
Yes. Simply put. This project has been going so long that people will expect the earth from it. How MR is received will greatly affect my future role on the fora. However, we are not the only total conversion in the works so whilst I feel pressure concerning the reception of MR I don’t feel required to be the standard bearer for fallout modding projects.

Will MR ever be released, or is it some kind of metaphor for a goal we must all try to reach?
MR will certainly be released.

Who is your most influential modder?
A real tough one this. DrK is inspiring to say the least (and any who get that will know why) This guy pushes the boundaries of what can and can’t be done with an engine.

In the early days, I was helped a lot by Sirren67 and killap. I came to the forum asking for scripting help and whether I was lucky, or chose the write project (EPA) I’ll never know – but the community really helped me out and I got a NMA newspost very soon after announcing my project.

Killap’s overall dedication is outstanding and should be used as a yardstick to us all.

Timeslip is a genius amongst mortals and I wish I had her talent in the programming department. Many things we considered impossible are now very much routine.

I also need to make a special mention of a good friend of mine, ardent. Without him, MR may have folder in recent years (due to my workload away from the forum) He has taken on the project and developed it like his own and we owe a lot to him. MR is a better place with him around.

Also, the MR team is inspiring. There’s some great people working on the project at the moment and the dedication they have is unbelievable.

Any advice for newcomers to the modding scene?

Go for it and don’t let other people get you down if you have a vision. From a practical side of things, start small and get used to the tools before reaching for the outermost galaxies.

Who is your favorite fallout character and why?
Myron? I am essentially a nerdy science geek. I just hope I’m liked more than Myron. Harold always made me laugh as well.

What would you prioritise if you survived a nuclear war (water, procreation, saving knowledge or finding shelter)?
Ah the Sheldon question! Probably water – we can’t survive long without it, food, shelter, preserving knowledge. I just hope I’m never in the position where I need to decide!

What's your take on experimental game mechanics, which have been discussed in the modding forums: food system, more severe radiation and poison effects, balancing stats and perks, balancing weapons, ammo mods, etc? Would you like to include some of them in MR?
I love them! But I am wary of turning fallout into the SIMS. I don’t want my character to catch a disease for not washing their hands after visiting the toilet and such nonsense! However, radiation, poison and diseases have been included in MR.

Such things as ammo mods and game balancing things are on the list of things to do as well.

Having extensive experience with managing modding teams - what size of team is optimal for you?
Good question. In some areas you can never have enough people! Artists and writers fall into this category. Regarding scripters, I think around 3 is optimal for fallout. Any more and you get into a situation where everyone has such a different build that it becomes a mess.

What are your plans for the future? MR 2?
Depends on how the community receives this game. I have plans for an expansion pack for MR with 2 or 3 new cities (efforts have already been made to reference and mention these areas so it won’t feel like they’ve been dropped in from nowhere!)

I also have some ideas from MR 2 and I had discussed ideas for a project with MIB88.

Who knows what the future will bring? Like the proverbial electron. I know where I’m going, but I’m not sure how fast.

News for Thursday, June 16, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 16:36

Remember Nuka Break? Creator Zack Finfrock has been looking for funding to turn it into an ongoing web series, and talks about the project with Nightmare Mode.

Having many resident Fallout fans at Nightmare Mode, we were curious regarding the material you guys used for reference for the series. Have you played the original titles aside from Fallout 3 or New Vegas? Have you by any chance referred to the ‘Fallout Bible’ at all? The plot fits!

I’ve played the first two Fallout games before, but never to the amount that I played the newer ones. I guess I can just get into the new ones because of the format of the gameplay.

So, as I was able to pull from the games I played, it wasn’t enough. At E3 2010, I met and talked with Chris Avellone, the writer of the ‘Fallout Bible’ (and Creative Director at Obisdian). I gave him my basic outline of the fan film, and we emailed back and forth about it. He read the whole script and gave me notes on how to keep it in cannon to the Fallout Universe. I honestly couldn’t have done it without him.

News for Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 23:21

In case you're intrigued by the idea of buying New Vegas but have ultimately decided that the price is too high for a game running on Gamebryo, you may be interested in knowing that the digital collector's edition of Fallout: New Vegas is 75% off on Direct2Drive, for both North America (which makes the price $12.50) and Europe (which would make the price £8.75/€9.99).

The Digital Collector's Edition includes a pdf version of All Roads and, of course, New Vegas being a Steamworks game, you can register your copy on Steam and sidestep Direct2Drive's download system altogether.

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 13:16

It's been a while since we've done a round-up of developer quotes, but with no release date for Old World Blues in sight, you may be interested in reading some of these quotes we've put together from the official forums and J.E. Sawyer's formspring page.

Let's start with Jason Bergman, on Old World Blues' release date:

As much as I like sharing info with you guys (and I really do) please understand I do not work for the marketing department here. Neither myself nor anyone at Obsidian can tell you when the DLC, patch or trailer will be out. Those announcements are entirely in the hands of our marketing folk.
And on the upcoming patch:
Before he does that he better fix more bugs in the game (ex. Minigun noise keeps going on even after you put it away).

Pleased to report that we fixed that one in the next patch, along with some other much-requested changes.

Stay tuned.
Have you fixed the never despawning ash/goo glitch :fingers crossed:

If we're talking about the same thing, that's not a bug. Fallout 3 functioned the same way.
Thank you!!!! I can finally use those now. Well... again.

On that note: Will this also solve the issue of the minigun not making sounds at all when fired? Or delayed sounds? <- the last one is probably lag but I figured I'd ask.

Audio drops out when memory gets especially low. We've done a lot to improve memory performance in this patch, so it should happen much less frequently post-patch.
will the next patch fix the glitch that causes the character to raise his hands and weapon up?

Yep! We fixed that one too. Really, really tricky, but we finally nailed it. Smile
How long does it take to fix something like that? Like, what does it require doing?

Just curious.

Obviously, it depends on the bug, but try to remember how enormous a game like FNV is, and how many different versions there are (26 at last count). We have to test every single one with every single change, which is why our patches tend to take a while and contain so many fixes all at once.
Edit: 26 versions of the game? Shouldn't there only be 3 (360. PS3, PC)?

Let's see...

360:

English (US/Canada), English (UK), French, Italian, Spanish, German, German (Censored), English Asia, Japan

PS3:

English (US), English/French (CA), English (UK), Italian, Spanish (Latin America), Spanish, German, German (Censored), Japan

PC:

English, French, Italian, German, German (Censored), Spanish, Russian/Polish

And I think I left out a couple. o_O
Then, J.E. Sawyer talks Honest Hearts.

On why Obsidian didn't give the option to help the White Legs:
Helping the White Legs wouldn't really help the Legion in any substantive way unless you consider helping Caesar clean up an embarrassing mistake to be inherently pro-Legion. It's worth noting that if you do Chaos In Zion and actually kill Joshua Graham yourself, the White Legs still aren't accepted into the Legion. Caesar just wants Graham dead and the White Legs are the scumbags to do it. We discussed doing a White Legs-oriented path through Honest Hearts but a) it would have been out of scope and b ) it still would likely have ended with you doing essentially Chaos in Zion: killing Daniel and/or Joshua Graham.

In retrospect, associating the White Legs with the Legion was probably my key mistake. Take the exact same tribe doing the exact same thing and remove their association with the Legion and people would not conclude that opposing them = opposing the Legion or that helping the New Canaanites = helping the Legion's enemies. The New Canaanites, though fundamentally opposed to the Legion, aren't really the parties in conflict. Caesar hates Joshua Graham, regardless of the lack of threat posed by New Canaan, the Sorrows, and the Dead Horses.

Sawyer, dunno why ya'll decided against being able to side with White Legs

Earlier in the thread I wrote: a) it would have been out of scope.

This is the biggest reason. Having an idea is very different from having the resources to implement that idea, much less implement and test that idea. We've had enough problems with content that comes across as half-implemented and/or buggy. Adding a separate quest line adds many more permutations and testing requirements to an area's content. I always like giving viable options to the player, but I have to treat scope issues seriously.
On Joshua Graham characterization:
It's not as simple as being "set on fire". After suffering a terrible failure, he was humiliated by his superior and the people he commanded. He was cast out and left for dead. His entire reason for living was gone. When your entire way of life is completely destroyed, it has a profound impact on how you view yourself and your place in the world. Because all momentum is lost, the experience causes you to evaluate and re-evaluate how you have reached this point -- and how to move forward.

There are thousands, if not millions, of examples of soldiers in history who engaged in ruthless -- often cruel -- behavior in times of war only to either return to an "ordinary" civilized life later. Some of them have no problem with what they did, others repress their memories as much as they can, and still others suffer strong crises of conscience that force profound changes in them. As Graham describes, his path to becoming the Malpais Legate was made up of many small compromises that turned increasingly sinister and brutal. At first he thought he was making the best of a bad situation and doing what needed to be done, but in the end he and Caesar had built a society on a foundation of fear and brutality. Caesar had a more grand vision for where the Legion was going, but Joshua Graham was caught up in the day to day maintenance of a tribal army engaged in bleak and often monstrous behavior. It was not until he was removed from that environment that he was able to reflect on his past. He could have chosen to blame Caesar, but in the end he blamed himself. The only people he knew in the world who could possibly accept him were the New Canaanites, so that's where he headed.
On how they treated Energy Weapons in DLC, or, more specifically, the holorifle:
It'd be nice to have a brand new model, but that reskin was fine. Elijah says he made it himself, so maybe he used a grenade launcher as a base. It would have been nice to have a whole new ammo type for it though.

Energy weapons are already much rarer than guns and explosives. The costs for maintaining energy weapons and ammo is also more expensive. It's not that energy weapons need to be the same as guns, it's that they should be getting as much attention. All weapons types should be, but that's another topic. Energy weapons don't have the same modability or ammo choice. I would argue that guns are by far a more efficient and cheaper way of getting the job done. The hunting rifle and This Machine can be acquired early, and stay effective the entire game. The AEP14 and Q-35 are arguably harder to get and will have to maintained much more often. And yes, energy weapons needs a grunt equivalent.
On quest markers:
Could u have an oval shaped mission marker to indicate "it's somewhere in this area"? cos if it says "search room for clue" I don't want the marker to lead me straight to the hiddn journal under the couch, cos we're not really searching the room that way.

The engine doesn't currently support that, but it's a good way to handle "find this" objectives. Assassin's Creed 2 used an objective pointer with either a) a radius or b) an irregular volume (e.g. the inside of a large, sprawling courtyard). I thought that did a good job of indicating the general area for the player while still making the player search for the target.
On, uhm, the Brotherhood of Steel, right wingers, and bisexual teenagers:
The Brotherhood of Steel faction is most appealing to right-wingers. Did you make the BoS companion, Veronica, a goofy and bisexual teenaged girl just to annoy them?

No.

Also, Veronica is a) not bisexual b) not a teenager.
On location design:
Is there any single person in the design process who creates the location's (eg Nipton) environment (placing fire/cucifixes, building houses, terrain shaping), populates it with items/NPCS (Vulpes, M. Steyn's comp, locker contents) and implements quests?

No. Environment building is typically handled by world builders and lit by artists. The rest of the "designy" aspects are handled by an area designer working from an RDC (Region Design Constraint doc) authored by me (or, in the case of some DLC content, Chris Avellone).
On Fallout and its influence on the RPG genre:
Chris Taylor and Tim Cain said that Fallout came out during hard for RPG times. Most of devs were too busy making easy jRPGs. Would you agree that Fallout somewhat saved RPG genre? Giving stimuli to other devs to try their hands at developing RPGs.

I think so, yes.
On DLC budget:
Your fond of repeating "budget" for DLCs nacks however the fact that money can be put aside for it rather than soley on new projects shows you do have resources at your disposal. DLC should expand gameplay, your $10 content used to be free on PC.

Money isn't "put aside" for DLCs; publishers pay us a contractually-defined amount to develop them. We're paid per-milestone delivery, just as we were on the core game. The publisher determines the price point and when to release it.
On why For Auld Lang Syne doesn't include a Mr. House/Yes Man path:
Why does For Auld Lang Syne have no way to say "fight for me/Yes Man" or "fight for House"? There seems to only be the option of fighting for NCR or Legion. This is kind of ridiculous, seeing as Arcade's ideal path is Independent Vegas.

Supporting NCR produces the same functional result, since really there are only two or three points in Hoover Dam where you potentially do something substantively different (against NCR), and those events do not occur outside on the dam itself.

But what if you are vilified with the NCR prior to the Dam war? Also, why would a Yes Man/House player ever tell them to support the NCR, especially when one of them doesn't like the NCR and is clear about it? It doesn't make any sense.

Because Mr. House knows that he is not personally going to wage war against the Legion with his Securitrons. His plan is to let NCR bear the brunt of the fighting and then use his Securitrons to push NCR out when the dust settles. Yes Man's logic follows this as well.

Asking the Remnants to fight on behalf of "Mr. House" doesn't make sense because Mr. House effectively has no forces in the main battle at Hoover Dam and he wouldn't want the Remnants to actively oppose NCR *during* the fight (because it would make removing the Legion presence more difficult).

Asking them to fight for an independent Vegas would produce the same functional result: help kick the Legion out, after which point the Securitrons show up and push NCR out.

Since there's no functional difference between what the Remnants do if the player is supporting NCR, independent Vegas, or Mr. House -- and since Mr. House and Yes Man see no point in having the Remnants actively fight NCR at Hoover Dam -- there's no real need to complicate the quest by adding in duplicate options producing the same end result.

News for Monday, June 13, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 19:48

I'm personally not sure on what exactly is going on lately, but it seems like we have another victim for the latest hacking spree: Bethesda Softworks. Recommendation being the usual, if you're registered on their forums change your password and beware of weird emails. Here's what Bethesda's community manager, Matt Grandstaff, has to say on the Bethblog:

Over the past weekend, a hacker group attempted an unlawful intrusion of our websites to gain access to data. We believe we have taken appropriate action to protect our data against these attacks. While no personal financial information or credit card data was obtained, the hackers may have gained access to some user names, email addresses, and/or passwords. As a precaution, we recommend that all our fans immediately change passwords on all our sites — including our community forums and the statistics site we maintain for Brink players.

If your username/email address/password is similar to what you use on other sites, we recommend changing the password at those sites as well. As we don’t know what further plans the hackers may have, we suggest that you keep an eye out for suspicious emails and account activity.

We regret any inconvenience that these attacks on us cause for you. These attacks will be evaluated to determine if there are any additional protections we might take that would be prudent.

News for Saturday, June 11, 2011

Posted by Dude101 - at 14:30

This is the first in a series of interviews in which we will be exploring the world of Fallout modding and some of it's most noted members. Timeslip revolutionised Fallout 2 modding with SFall, and is well known for many other projects.

Q: Who are you?
In my modding guise, just Timeslip. The old-school fallout fans probably know me for SFall, and the Bethesda crowd that only joined in at the third game for Fallout Mod Manager.

Q: How did you get into Fallout modding?
Given how habitually I try and mod stuff, that's pretty much the same question as asking why I started playing Fallout in the first place. On the first playthrough of a game, I'll mod whatever's required to get it working properly. On older games that tends to be graphics patches and on newer ones things like stripping out crap, like GFWL. If a game is good enough to warrant a second playthrough, I always try to mod other things as I go and Fallout 2 turned out to be good enough to warrant considerably more than 2 playthroughs.

Bethesda's announcement that they were working on Fallout 3 brought back memories of the other two, which I still had hidden away at the back of a cupboard, but which hadn't been played for years. I decided to pull them out and see what the fuss was about. After playing for a bit, it was obvious there were a couple of things I needed to change: A fullscreen application doing resolution switching tends to cause problems for my duel monitor setup, and after playing more recent games, I really wanted to be able to use the mouse wheel on certain screens. That was the start of SFall; just a small patch to fix a couple of my own niggles. I posted it on Bethesda's new Fallout forums on the off chance that someone else would find it useful, and the existing modders on holiday from NMA picked it up pretty quickly. On my second playthrough (using the Megamod, IIRC), I started adding random gunk to it like the script extender, and taking up some of the feature requests. From there it grew pretty quickly, and even started picking up extra contributors.

So I guess you have Bethesda to thank for SFall's initial existence, but it was the thanks and support of people from NMA that caused it to grow the way it did rather than dying as little more than a mouse wheel patch.

Q: You have done a lot of work on other games. What work are you most proud of?
Back while I was still working on it, Morrowind Graphics Extender would have won that, hands down. It started off similiarly to SFall; it had a few tweaks (antialiasing and the like), but no killer features. Then I announced I was working on adding oblivion style distant land, was greeted by a chorus of "that's not possible", and then went and did it anyway. There was a very valuable lesson in that; never claim that something is completely impossible, because there's always the chance of embarrassing yourself later. Unfortunately it was a lesson I didn't learn too well; early on in SFall's life I said that a resolution patch that increased the viewable map area wouldn't be possible, and then Mash went and did it in my despite. Although in my defence, I was careful to limit myself to making excuses about needing to redo the maps, rather than flat out saying it was technically impossible, which was what I have to admit to thinking.

Since I left though, MGE has been taken over by more people who, while perhaps not knowing how to get started with such a project, certainly know a heck of a lot more about how efficient graphics engines are supposed to work (and having more than 3 weeks of C++ experience, which was what I had when I started it, probably helped them too...). It's changed beyond recognition, and I don't really understand how half of it works any more, which makes me uncomfortable still claiming it as my mod. Sad

In terms of sheer number of downloads I guess the Oblivion/Fallout Mod Manager would win (well over a million, although OBMM is long since dead, and FOMM is now supported by Karburke rather than myself, so it's probably time I stopped counting), but there wasn't much there that I can point at and say that it's really something special. It doesn't do much more than grunt work.

Q: SFall is an amazing project. Do you have any future plans for it, or will you be focusing on your multi-platform FO project (an equally amazing project)?
I have no current plans for SFall, but I rarely have plans for anything; I just do whatever seems like a good idea at the time. There's certainly some improvements I'd like to make to the script editor when I find time. I'd also like to try writing my own script compiler for curiosities sake. It wouldn't really be useful at all, but another recent project forced me to learn antlr, and now I'm stuck in a bit of a "I have a hammer and everything looks like a nail" frame of mind with it.

The multi-platform Fallout project was really just an experiment to see if it was possible. It'll never replace the original+SFall on Windows or Wine on Linux, and since without a miracle from Bethesda it'll never be available from the app store equivalents of any mobile platform, even there it would serve little purpose.

Wait, after what I said earlier, I just said 'never' again there didn't I... Maybe I should make add "almost certainly", just in case. Wink

Q: How do you find your creativity to do this?
How much creativity is really involved? If I start playing a game, it does Windows 7's silly colour thing, and I think 'the colours are all wonky. I should fix that.' does it count as being creative? It doesn't always have to be that clear cut, but that's my general method: I'll be playing a game, see something which I don't like, or which I feel like changing just for the fun of it, and then set about thinking up how to change it. There's probably more creativity in that second stage than the first, but that's creativity of a different sort; more problem solving than thinking up something completely new.

Q: Any advice for newcomers to the modding scene?
The main thing you want to do is to avoid burning yourself out. Pick a game to mod that you enjoy playing, and that has an active community. Work on something that interests you and not what other people tell you they want, even if it reduces your target audience. Don't jump straight in at the deep end; start with something small and build your way up.

The worst thing you can possibly do is pop up in some forum you've never visited before, announce some grandiose project to a bunch of people who don't know you, and have nothing concrete to show but promise that you're going to release next week anyway. 99% of the time, you'll have bitten off more than you can chew, will fail miserably, be left with a bunch of people who no longer trust you, and possibly will have destroyed your own enjoyment of the game (although if you are in the other 1%, you have my envy Wink).

Q: Where do Fallout 1,2,3,NV rank in your all-time favorite titles?
Putting the fallout titles in order amongst themselves, 2 was most certainly my favourite, and the one I've spent by far the most time on. The first game was still good, but I've never really had the urge to replay it, probably because of the lack of mods. Bethesda's attempt at a third game I really didn't enjoy, which unfortunately means that I can't comment on FNV: due to my experiences with FO3, I decided against buying it.

Against other games, Fallout 2 holds up well. In fact it's up there with Morrowind, the Settlers and Fragile Allegiance (anyone remember that old one? Razz) as my all time favourites.

Q: Whats your take on modern RPGs?
Heh, you shouldn't have asked that. You're going to cause me to rant now. Razz

An unfortunate fact is that the big developers are all in it for the profit. It's understandable; building a modern game has a huge cost in both time and money, and they have shareholders to please. That means that they all make games that they know will sell a large amount of copies. No-one takes any risks, and everyone targets the same (biggest) demographic, the result of which strongly discourages any originality, and which is a bit of a bugger if you happen not to be in that demographic. There's a focus on making games "accessible" (i.e. completable by a crippled chimpanzee in his sleep) or on fancy graphics, rather than new complex gameplay mechanics. The worst thing of all is the treating of customers as nothing more than statistics (and, in the case of the PC, aspiring pirates,) rather than as people. The worst symptoms of this are DRM and DLC, the first apparently designed by people who hate it as much as the paying customers do (and considerably more than the real pirates do, who don't have to worry about it at all) to please people in suits who don't know how the real world works and have never managed to figure out how to google the pirate bay, and the second designed by marketing people who know very well how the real world works and know how to extract the maximum amount of money out of people with as little effort as possible. (I differentiate DLC from expansion packs there by terms of size. It's the difference between paying $20 for another 10-20 hours of game content, or 10 sets of 1-2 hour DLC at $5 each. You end up paying more than twice as much for exactly the same thing, and that's without even starting on the horse armour/black dye jokes).

I do try to practice what I preach too. Of my last, umm, 12 non-indie games purchases, 10 have been from GoG. Of the remaining two, one was new but which I only bought because I had two thirds off (and which, tbh, I wish I hadn't...) and one was a boxed copy of an old game that GoG didn't sell. Admittedly one of the GoG purchases was the Witcher 2, which isn't old, but is still good, and handled by a developer/publisher still small enough to have some respect remaining (which also means, unfortunately, small enough to have little experience with handling such a big game launch, and now that they have valuable IP, they'll probably be bought up by someone bigger and have all the life sucked out of them fairly soon).

Q: What do you do outside of modding?
Umm, lessee, what stereotypical geek stuff is there? Anime/manga, eating pizza, (but not drinking beer. I hate the stuff.) Attempting to play D&D, but failing due to not being able to convince anyone else that it's a constructive way to spend their time (which to be fair, it probably isn't but that's missing the point Razz). Also sewing, which probably isn't so stereotypical, but is a pretty darn useful thing to be able to do. Oh, and uni and sleep, which I should probably include on account of the silly amount of time they take up (seriously, why do we have to sleep? It's such a waste of good time Sad ).

Q: Who is your most influential modder?
We've never met, or even spoken, but nevertheless my answer will have to be Alexander Stasenko, best known as the author of Morrowind FPS Optimizer. It was only a little thing; he released a command line tool called fpu2sse which did exactly what it said on the tin, but which the average born-after-the-days-of-DOS Morrowind player was having trouble using, so I wrote and released a little gui for it. It was all of half an hours work, but it was nevertheless very well received on the morrowind forums. It was the response to that that made me think 'hey, I can write stuff that people want. I should do this more often!' It's not that I would have never started modding without that; I already had done, but they were all really small things that I'd only written for myself, and I only ever published them on my website without ever joining in any public discussion on any forums. That was the point where I switched from only ever working on smaller things to taking up bigger projects. Certainly without that small insignificant-looking incident, Morrowind Graphics Extender would never have existed.

Q: Who is your favorite Fallout character and why?
Difficult one. Normally I'd look for a character that matches my own personality, or at least that I could relate to, but there's no individual in fallout that stands out above all the others. There's always the option of the player character, because there I have the option of projecting my own personality onto him/her, but that's probably cheating.

News for Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 14:45

Coinciding with Bethesda's claims, Interplay has filed a supplemental response to respond to various allegations made by Bethesda in earlier stages of this claim. The key claim, obviously, is that they have indeed obtained all needed funding. The Vault reports on this with additional detail.

Interplay satisfied its obligations under Section 2.3 of the TLA through a funding agreement with Interactive Game Group that provided up to $15 million and through a binding letter of intent for development services and subsequent agreement with Masthead Studios that provided approximately $20 million in development services and technology licenses.
They state the following on development so far:
The people who worked on Fallout Online prior to April 4, 2009 include Jason Anderson, Chris Taylor, Mark O'Green, Serg Souleimann, Kevin Stocker, Marshall Kautz, and the programmers, artists and designers at Masthead Studios whose names are unknown to Interplay. Interplay does not know the total amount of time or monetary resources that has been expended by Masthead since Masthead has not accounted to Interplay as of this date. Interplay has spent in excess of $2,000,000 on development.
And from Chesnai's sworn statement (not in NMA's possession):
As of April 4, 2009, I2G had, through an affiliate, a line of credit granted by a bank, for an amount not to exceed 10 million Euros. That line was not drawn on April 4, 2009.

Posted by Brother None - at 14:37

The legal back-and-forth between Interplay and Bethesda continues, as No Mutants Allowed has received some recent (6th of June) filings including some interesting claims.

One is a filing by Bethesda, where they again request a temporary injunction to stop Interplay from developing Fallout Online, the last request having been dismissed. Bethesda repeats its claim that Interplay only has the right to use the Fallout name. Most of it is spent on that, but some added claims include the note that Interplay's most recent 10-K does not point to it having fulfilled its obligations:

Interplay’s Form 10-K also confirms that Interplay has failed to satisfy the “Full-Scale Development” and “Minimum Financing” requirements of the TLA. Interplay’s Form 10-K shows that for 2009, when Interplay was supposed to be in “Full-Scale Development” of its Fallout MMOG, Interplay spent only $279,000 on game development activities for all of its products combined.
(...)
Interplay’s Form 10-K likewise confirms that Interplay is financially broke and has secured no financing for its development activities, let alone the $30 million in financing required by the TLA.
Bethesda further claims "Interplay has no right to transfer or sub-license its rights under the TLA", and thus its contract with Masthead is breaking the contract.

To further spice up their claims, Bethesda takes note of Fallout Online's website, not around on their previous claim:
Interplay also has reproduced and distributed, and continues to reproduce and distribute, Bethesda’s copyrighted works (and/or their derivatives) to the public at large through the web site www.fallout-on-line.com. The flash animation and content of this website include infringing copies of Bethesda’s copyrighted works, including copyrighted character art such as “Vault Boy” and weapons art such as “Brother of Steel Power Armor.” The animation’s opening sequence with the “Please Stand By” test pattern is copied from the opening scene of Bethesda’s Fallout 3 game. The carvings on the desk of “The Master Lives” and “♥Harold” depicted in the animation are plain and clear references to “The Master” and “Harold,” characters from the backstory of the previous Fallout games.
And the money quote: Bethesda claiming Interplay is planning to undermine their work:
Although it is unnecessary for establishing the requirements for preliminary injunctive relief, Interplay intends to use Bethesda’s copyrighted materials with the intent to undermine Bethesda’s reputation and the reputation of Bethesda’s award-winning Fallout 3 game. The original Fallout game takes place circa 2161, on the west coast of the United States, in a postapocalyptic world destroyed eighty-five years earlier by nuclear war. Fallout 2 also is set on the west coast of the United States and takes place approximately 80 years after Fallout (c. 2241). When Bethesda created Fallout 3, Bethesda continued the post-apocalyptic tradition of Fallout and Fallout 2. However, Bethesda set the game on the east coast of the United States approximately 35 years after Fallout 2 and 200 years after the nuclear war (c. 2277). Documents recently produced by Interplay reveal that Interplay intends to REDACTED . This places the Fallout MMOG story line REDACTED . Interplay’s documents show that, in its Fallout MMOG, Interplay intends to REDACTED . Specifically, Interplay’s documents state: REDACTED

In other words, Interplay intends to use the copyrighted Fallout artwork and backstory, which is undisputedly owned by Bethesda, to undermine the plot-line of Bethesda’s awardwinning Fallout 3 game. Obviously, this is intended to harm Bethesda’s reputation and that of the Fallout 3 game. Game players who follow the Fallout history will be confused and confounded by the sequence of events created by Interplay in its MMOG. For the Court’s convenience, the pertinent sections of the Interplay documents quoted above are reproduced in the images below.

News for Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 23:01

Atari has a surprise announcement for us from/during E3, GameBanshee reporting on a new action-RPG to be released on PC, XBLA and PSN: Gamma World: Alpha Mutation. Gamma World is a P&P setting whose rules are heavily inspired by AD&D, with a setting in the 25th century following a nuclear war. The bad news is the developer is Bedlam games, who just worked with Atari on the universally derided Daggerdale.

In the fall of 2012, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, embarked on a new series of high-energy experiments. No one knows exactly what they were attempting to do, but a little after 3pm on a Thursday afternoon came The Big Mistake. Something unexpected happened, and in the blink of an eye, a multiplicity of possible universes condensed into a single reality. Welcome to Gamma Terra.

Gamma World: Alpha Mutation sends you to Gamma Terra, a savage land of adventure, where the survivors of “The Big Mistake” must contend with radioactive wastes, rampant lawlessness, and monstrous predators. Against a nuclear backdrop, heroic scavengers search crumbled ruins for lost artifacts while battling mutants and other perils.

Create your Gamma World hero from a variety of primary and secondary origins. Radiation-triggered Alpha Mutations change the players abilities in unpredictable ways throughout their adventure, and powerful Omega Technology will allow players to bend the laws of reality itself in their quest for survival.

Explore Gamma Terra: Take on a variety of perilous missions through a variety of regions of gamma terra, from ruined cities to barren wastelands and beyond, the collision of multiple realities has created a world as exotic as it is deadly.

The Quick and the Dead: Gamma world delivers the depth of an RPG and the action of third person shooter. Quick reflexes and split second decisions are just as important as effective character design.

Lone Wolf or Death Squad: Take on missions solo or join up with friends to tackle the challenges of the Gamma Terra. Play with two players locally or up to four players online.

Evolve Your Character with Alpha Mutations: Gamma World’s character customization system allows players to actively develop their character in almost unlimited ways.

Discover Omega Technology: Powerful technology from other dimensions can turn the tides and preserve your hero’s life… for now.

Conduct Weapons R&D: Scavenge the environment for parts to create new weapons, armor, tools and more. Your ingenuity is your edge in this fight for survival.

News for Monday, June 6, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 17:01

For those of you who live in Europe and are playing New Vegas on a PS3, you may be interested in knowing that the second volume of DLC, Honest Hearts, has apparently been released with today's PSN Store update. Price is the usual £7.99/€9.99.

News for Saturday, June 4, 2011

Posted by Brother None - at 16:29

In a stunning show of game journalism, Gamergaia interviewed modder-in-exile Prosper.

In what may have been a reaction bred by disillusionment, he began to visit his former haunting grounds with offensive behavior, driving former supporters away and attracting the unwanted attention of moderators. "I took on a new personality," he said, "I was warned once for acting like i was on drugs and the second time for being harsh... and finally I just fought the mods themselves."

What eventually got him kicked from The Nexus, one of his two major outlets for advertising his ideas and results, was what he describes as an unprovoked attack by a number of respected modders. He suggests that it was because of his ambitions for Fallout multiplayer that he was ejected from the community without warning. Regardless of how or why it happened, Nexus was lost, and so too was his most appropriate stomping grounds.

Prosper has lost the official Bethesda Soft Games Forum, too. Not only did he manage to get himself threatened by Bethesda’s legal team after suggesting they allow encryption of plugins, but he was permanently banned after he bluffed at having a leak of sensitive Fallout 4 documents. Take this with a grain of salt – until Bethesda's reaction made him think otherwise, Prosper himself intended for it all to be a joke. Six minutes after posting pages upon pages of backdated material originally developed and scrapped for Fallouts 1 and 2, his account was frozen, both on Bethesda’s official forum and on the popular image site on which he stored his documents.

Does it point to twitchy fingers at Bethesda nervously pulling documents in fear of letting potential Fallout 4 quest material out into the open? Maybe not, but it begs the question of why seemingly outdated documents were treated like highly sensitive leak material.
We're sorry for banning you, Prosper! Truly you are a visionary. Obviously when you spread the publicly-available Burrows design docs claiming they were for Fallout 4, you were Fighting For The Truth! Truly you are an hero!

No, I'm just kidding, you're still banned.

Thanks OldSchoolBluey AKA Prosper.

News for Thursday, June 2, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 20:54

It appears that, now that the new Qore episode is up, footage from it is leaking on the net. First, some concept art:


Then, the footage proper, including interviews with Chris Avellone and Bethesda's senior producer Jason Bergman:


Thanks The Vault.

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 13:35

Now that the Playstation Network Store is back online, North American PS3 players too can buy Fallout: New Vegas' DLC, Honest Hearts for $9.99.

It appears that PS3 players in Europe will have to wait a bit more since, despite the fact that the store is back online, the DLC is yet to be made available there.

EDIT: Senior Producer Jason Bergman tweets noting that the last episode of Qore (containing an Old World Blues preview with footage) is available too.

Confirmed! Took a few tries, but both Honest Hearts and the @Qore with Old World Blues preview are available NOW on PSN. Go go go!

News for Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 19:35

We have some more reviews for Honest Hearts, and it's safe to say that at this point its reception has solidified as "mixed".

GameSpot, 7/10

The two men at the center of Honest Hearts are good, sincere blokes that nonetheless don't see eye to eye on how to deal with the White Legs, a violent tribe of nomads eager to scalp anyone that dares oppose them. One of these men is Daniel, a Mormon missionary with close ties to a tribe called The Sorrows. The other is Joshua Graham, otherwise known as The Burned Man. Joshua favors an aggressive approach toward the White Legs, which is no surprise given his violent past with Caesar's Legion. He is beloved by the Dead Horses tribe and preaches that mankind should shun the greed of the outside world. You stumble upon both men after the trading caravan you join falls victim to the White Legs, though neither makes a very strong impression. Joshua needs supplies like lunch boxes and walkie-talkies; Daniel sends you to find maps and disarm traps. These are nice men that nonetheless make you wonder how they managed to inspire the devotion of the locals. Joshua tells you that he was put on Earth to show people how to fight, yet he speaks in even tones, without an ounce of passion. For someone called The Burned Man, his personality lacks fire, and the tasks he needs performed are hardly extraordinary.

As mundane as the narrative is, you still get welcome opportunities to make decisions, though they would have more weight if you felt more invested in the consequences. Standard quests allow for a bit of flexibility. You might kill the gigantic Yao Guai creatures threatening the camp or collapse the cave in which they live. You could convince a tribesman to follow his heart and explore the "civilized" world or encourage him to stay with his people. The final series of decisions determine the future of several characters and their tribes, and these are outlined in an epilogue that closes the adventure in traditional Fallout fashion. Some of these characters include a few that join you as followers, and they, like Joshua and Daniel, are remarkably even tempered. It's nice to have their company, however--particularly that of Waking Cloud, a pious Sorrow tribeswoman indebted to Daniel for her saving her life. It's too bad that some of the quests these characters join you for are so routine. Find a key, open a cabinet, search for a compass: These are simple fetch quests that needed some dressing up with better context.
IncGamers, 7/10
Including The Burned Man in this DLC presented Obsidian's writers with a problem: his legend was so well developed in New Vegas that meeting him in the (charred) flesh is going to inevitably be a "Huh, I imagined you as taller" moment for a lot of players. It's a challenge I think they've risen to with reasonable success, as conversations with Graham reveal him to be a well-developed character outside of his own mythology. His descent into 'sin' (for want of a better term) is believable, given the setting; as are his new motivations for action. Rather than excusing slaughter in the name of power and order, he now justifies his actions by appealing to God's wrath. In addition, the fact that neither of the New Caananites pronounce Caeser in his preferred Latin fashion is a subtle rejection of his influence over them. It's a great example of how good writing never spells things out.

Elsewhere, the DLC is prone to over-exposition. Due to what I assume were time and budgetary constraints, the Dead Horses and Sorrows are represented almost entirely by two tribal companions who travel with you through Zion at various points and provide (along with Joshua and Daniel) the vast majority of information about the area and its inhabitants. Other tribal peoples populate the two camps, but don't have any kind of distinct personality of their own. The Sorrows have a shaman, and there's a hilarious cameo from a chem-addicted blowhard named Ricky but that's about it. This means the bulk of Honest Hearts is spent interacting with four people. In Dead Money, this was also the case, but there it made sense due to the circumstances of the add-on. Here, it feels a touch sparse.
ShopToNews, 3/6
Honest Hearts is a solid piece of DLC that adds just about enough to make it a decent purchase, but doesn’t add an interesting enough tale which would make it absolutely essential. While the heightened level cap, new weaponry, and fresh perks may be a draw for some, the clichéd and somewhat dull story culminate in a solid yet unspectacular add-on. One for New Vegas fanatics certainly, but easy to pass over if you tired of that sorry tale a long time ago.
Brutal Gamer, 6.0/10
Honest Hearts doesn’t add much to the tried and tested Fallout: New Vegas formula. While the different new location offers a huge change from the Mojave, it’s disappointing that a potentially interesting story of essentially colonialism doesn’t get more of a push. If you enjoy exploration, looting and want an increased level cap then yes, invest in Honest Hearts. If you’re looking for something that’s new and different however, you’ll be disappointed.

Here’s hoping Old World Blues and Lonesome Road, due in June and July respectively, bring something unique to Fallout: New Vegas.