Bethesda’s Pete Hines Fallout 4 interview

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by TorontoReign, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    I have no clue how Bethesdas marketing works, though Marketing should be there to decide on how to promote the game and creating good strategies on how to sell the finished product. Not to tell you how to create the game. Knowing your target audience is absolutely important no doubts about that.

    However as the game/creative director you have to follow a creative process and motivate your team. Once a director nailed down what he want's to achieve, it's up to him on making sure that this vision becomes a reality. Having constantly people talking in your design process is not only frustrating but also often enough creating problems.

    I experienced at first hand what happens when you have clueless marketing gurus without any design knowledge interfering with your creative work - since they believe creating content is just pushing buttons on a keyboard. The famous case where they demand from you to squeze a square peg in a round hole ...

    This excellently explains in a very humorous manner what kind of ... people you have sometimes in front of you.

    The kind of people that will tell you, Lightsabers are popular, liked and melee weapons so they should be used any time and in every movie where a sword is drawn!.

    And FPS/real time combat is pretty much Bethesdas Light Saber to the Fallout franchise. Turning the whole franchise basically in a first person shooter.

    Actually I believe gamers are very bad at communicating what they want, they usually know very well what they don't wan't though. That is why it isn't simply enough to open a gaming forum and just read the suggestions topic all day. But no one can demand that anyway, since gamers are consumers, not designers. And like others already said, reviews are a very bad metric and source to look for. If you're already knee deep in the design process than you should have a rough imagination of your player base and target audience anyway.

    The main issue isn't AAA content or content created for the mass market appeal. I can totally enjoy my MC Donalds Burger next to a Filet Mignon. Having as much fun in a CoD game as with Deus Ex.

    What we are facing right now though is a bastardization of a known and well defined franchise in favour for sales figures - I guess. Instead of taking the time to create a worthy Fallout sequel Bethesda has simply applied their Elder Scrolls/First Person Shooter formula on the Fallout franchise. Now what ever if that is because of Marketing (shooter sell millions) or if it is simply because Bethesa is a one-trick-ponny, is a different question.

    But as far as Fallout goes, Imagine a recoloured, remastered, digitalized and simplified version of Citizen Kane created for the DVD on demand (mass) market.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2016
  2. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    Citizen Cane?

    But Fallout and many games have been dumbed down, one of my friends actually said Skyrim had TOO much dialoge!
  3. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    :shock: At that moment you were permitted, no, it would have been you duty to slap him several times in the face. Ignorance can be forgiven, stupidity must be punished on the spot.
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  4. Zerginfestor

    Zerginfestor dear god, the scrapping

    Apr 18, 2015
    Glad to know I'm not the only one who watches Alchestbreach :grin: XD
  5. IrradiatedGarlic

    IrradiatedGarlic First time out of the vault

    Jun 20, 2015
    The issue is that they describe the process as basically coming up with an idea then starting to implement it rather than really planning on the project at all. RPG mechanics and balance are very mathematical so if you don't bother to examine them from that standpoint, you end up with completely broken and sometimes nonsensical systems. What feels right is important but unless you are a savant, you can't balance your entire game that way. They also talked about coming up with ideas, saying "That's cool!", and implementing them. This might work as a way to pitch some gameplay elements but when that is how you write and come up with areas for your game, you end up with a world without cohesion, see the amusement park that is Fallout 3 and a lot of elements in Fallout 2 (New Reno being the beacon). If you're writing is strong, you can get away with it to an extent (Fallout 2) but it doesn't make your world cohesive.
  6. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Or head banging moments like the end of F3 where half of your companions refuse to help you, cuz reasons - even though they are immune to radiation. So they would rathe see you or your BoS Chick sacrifice their life for something that can be only described as lulz.

    And the lead writer from F4 was completely fine with it too.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  7. Askorti


    Jun 30, 2015
    TL;DR version: We had our vision of the ending, added more stuff that should've changed that initial vision, but we didn't give enough of a f*ck to do it.
    I really try not to hate Bethesda, but in cases like this one it's really difficult.
    • [Like] [Like] x 1
  8. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    So.... they are admitting to BAD DESIGN, and no one calls them out on it? Why do people keep calling them geniuses?
  9. fred2

    fred2 Where'd That 6th Toe Come From?

    Nov 2, 2013
    What the first rule of circle jerk? Either lend a hand or fuck off ;) Unfortunately I forgot, and thus I am back on this marry go round.. As usual my point was swept away in righteous indignation for the cause (generally speaking even though I am replying to you).

    I was suggesting that you guys have chosen to construed too much from second hand quote simply to confirm your bias.. ( a fairly common practice here) I wasn't giving an oppion on what marketing should be... For that effect I referred to Chris Avalon interview to provide possible context for early involvement of marketing. Here it is, you decide:
    Q: What were the highlights of the development process of New Vegas?

    -This is a little random, but marketing support from Bethesda, and how it changed my opinion on game development marketing and how much it can help your title when they are involved early and they understand the title. They didn’t just meet us halfway, they did more than I’ve ever seen a marketing department do in all the companies I’ve worked with. As an example, one of the first marketing meetings I’d had for the game was very early in the development process, and during the meeting, the head of PR/Marketing said “I’ll start playing the builds so I can demo this myself,” which amazed me. Then he did it. You’d be surprised how often marketing doesn’t want anything to do with talking about or demoing a title, they leave that to the developers. Bethesda really stepped up in all these aspects.

    -We also had a marketing plan. This is a rare thing-and even more rare, we had a marketing plan early. This may be a difficult thing for someone outside of game development to realize, but it was a godsend to actually hold it in our hands and know what the future of the product was and how to plan for it.​

    Again, I wasn't giving an opinion one way or the other, only suggesting cherry picking. But for the sake of the argument.. I am well aware of the issues you mentioned, which is why I phrased it as a question, so do you have a better metric for mainstream titles? -- I ask for an alternate solution so we can avoid the 'pitfall of democracy' winded scenario if the bottom line is that we all agree that there is no better way.

    AAA games tend to have the highest development budgets, and thus require much higher number of sales to become a commercial success, thus they are marketed and designed appropriately.

    Basically AAA games are the equivalent of movie blockbuster. And just the same there are the pretentious people who keep coming back for more all the while complaining how its beneath them, not mentally stimulating, etc... Worse there are the delusional ones who believe that the quality of mainstream is to be blame on misguided beliefs of producers/developers, who are supplying mediocrity contrary to popular demand.. Riiiight :/

    Its a valid felling shared by most here, but:

    1. Its Interplay who made sure of that, because at the time no one wanted to touch iso cRPGs with stick (most still wont) let alone pay for interplay tab.
    2. Yes, Obviously Beth applied what they knew, were good at and what worked. Its a delusion that hardcore iso cRPG was in the cards at any time (or will be), admitedly one that I also shared for a long time.
    3. Get over it.... its been a decade, don't be a one-rant-ponny like myself ;)

    That one interpretation of a fairly common statement in development.. As for the rest, I have been following pillars of eternity development (who had TIM CAIN, considered by some as FO legend due to his work on its mechanics, and Josh Sawyer who were very straight forward on most aspects ) and what you later describe can be easily said of that project.. and yes mechanics wise they sang a different song at the start and the beginning.. C'est la development..
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
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  10. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    It gets worse... I try to make a legitimate argument why Skyrim sucks, giving good solid reasons and how do they respond? By character assassination, calling me a grumpy old douche who can't evolve. God damn it, these days you can't even give a good argument to the masses.
  11. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Half-way Through My Half-life

    Nov 26, 2007
    The other person has to be able to conceive of even the possibility of such.

    I once recognized a guy on the bus from grade school, it had been about eight years since graduation. I had just come from a movie, and mentioned it, and he asked how was the film; I said that it was fantastic ~but not as good as the book. His facial expression was as if I'd just said I'd come back from a trip to the Moon. :wtf:

    This guy could not conceive of even the possibility of such a thing; and he blurted out, "But how? Movies have action, and sound! Books just sit there, and you look at them". When a person has no conception of how a thing you describe could be enjoyable, or preferable, there is really no convincing them with words. It falls on deaf ears, and eyes fastly shut.

    Skyrim fans [the majority of], don't want an RPG, they want a waking dream; a reactive landscape to wander around in... An adventure sim. Any aspect of RPG in place would be seen as railroading and infringing on their ~roleplay. :twitch:
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
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  12. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015

    Wait what!?

    Yeah it's happening nowadays, and it gets worse. Soon Skyrim will be declaimed as a game that has too many interesting quests and great characters that may confuse a new player.
  13. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    I have no doubt that Bethesda has excelent marketing. Though it still doesn't change the fact that they are selling very mediocre content, in RPG terms, very polished content, but still mediocre, in many cases outright bad.

    Though I agree with you, it seems a bit pointless to get further into that as we will never know how and why Bethesda made their decisions, if or if not the marketing had a very huge influence on the way how Fallout turned out - maybe 7 years ago things have been different compared to today. Who knows who was really responsible for making Fallout 3 an First Person Shooter. Marketing or Todd? What ever.

    If you're talking about (popular) reviews, than yeah, I do. Your judgment as developer. As game designer you're suposed to be the expert. And hopefully knowing trough experience and education and enough research what works and what doesnt. I mean we are not talking about rocket surgery after all, the mass market isn't some super complex group anyway. Particularly large companies today can fall back on a very high number of marketing tools to do a correct research.

    Doesn't mean that it would be an easy job. But reviews like meta critics and user scores should be really not your guideline, if anything just something you acknowledge that it exists. They are after all made by just a handfull of people, not the millions that buy (eventually) your game. And you can not expect from people that are not designers to articulate and communicate well what works and what doesn't. And not to forget what's popular today can be outdated tomorrow. I am pretty sure that enough franchises and games have been killed in favour of short sighted monetary targets. Like Commandos.

    Why should I? Look, I am not going to cut my wrists about it any time soon, that should be enough. I am disapointed about the current evoltion, not depressed about it. Games are just ONE part of my life. Though I will continue to talk about this on a FALLOUT FANSITE mainly dedicated to the OLD TITLES which I see my self as a FAN about. By the way, the Franchise has been sold once, it can happen again. Who knows what will happen in 5, 10 or 15 years. However I still planing on playing games in the future.

    To make this short, to "let go" feels for me like lowering my standarts as gamer (and person in general). Not gona happen. Call me ignorant if you want. Or just a ranting Fallout fan. - Doesnt mean that I can't enjoy content made for the mass market, just not with Fallout.

    But even if we are NOT talking about Fallout, Bethesda has still to take the criticism of making mediocre/bad RPGs. Seriously, how can any self respected RPG player who really likes RPGs be happy about Emils comments. It's just coinsidence that Fallout has good and well writen dialog as core concept. But even if Bethesda decided to make a no-name post apoc RPG, I would still not want to see such face-desk worthy dialog like with your companions in the purifier or with Eden. Hell, I think if you give me enough time even I could come up with better writing.

    Just for the fun of it it's sometimes interesting to look at the numbers.

    How big is the production cost of a game like let us say the newest Call of Duty or Assasins Creed? How much of the resources go actually in to development and how is spend on advertising? It's not rare that the marketing budged is 10 times the size of the actuall development cost. Infact I would say that the difference between a title made by a small team is not THAT big compared to a title made with a large team. Though, usually the smaller teams are independed and have not to look out for a parenting company - think about Bioware making sure that Dragonage sells at least 10-15 million games, because EA requires a lot more than Bioware to survive.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  14. MercenarySnake

    MercenarySnake Kept you waiting huh?

    Aug 22, 2015
    I can't name one good quest or NPCs I liked except to be used as pack mules and meat shields. Hell the writing was nonexistent and you could join every faction and become leader in a day. A sandbox game sounds like a good idea but bores me to tears when there's nothing worth doing since all the NPCs are the equivalent of cardboard cutouts.
  15. Gnarles Bronson

    Gnarles Bronson regular mutant

    Oct 30, 2011

    You know, I have to say I like the Bethesda style of games. I like the 3rd/fps open world etc... I'm just looking forward to the day when a more competent development team can actually make an interesting game out of it (besides black isle, of course).
  16. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    Exactly. You did realize my sarcasm right? Though I agree with you there, ALL the characters suck.
  17. MercenarySnake

    MercenarySnake Kept you waiting huh?

    Aug 22, 2015
    I was adding my dislike of the game as well as everyone else.
  18. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    On the topic of Fallout 4, what do you think of it being set in Boston? Personally I am undecided for it, yet I am disappointed that it's set in the West Coast.
  19. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Half-way Through My Half-life

    Nov 26, 2007
    I don't see anything inherently bad about the setting. IMO they could have picked Milwaukee instead; set it farther from the Pit DLC.
    (Also closer to the Mid-Western BOS chapter.)

    *And twas the setting for 'Happy Days' sitcom. :grin:
    The Glowing Sea could have been the Glowing Lake Michigan; (and make a hell of a lot more sense than the Ocean).
    They could have even had a leather Jacketed Ghoul named Arthur. :ok: Heeey.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  20. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    Oh please, not that many references.