Interview with the team leader of the Fallout Vault 13 Total Conversion project

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by The Dutch Ghost, Nov 20, 2023.

  1. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    A couple of months ago the Fallout: Vault 13 team showcased the work they had done on a Fallout 1 Total conversion for Fallout 4 in a demonstration video on Youtube, recreating the world of the Fallout 1 campaign into a First Person gaming experience. Rather than just recreating the locations with the same map layouts as in the original classic Fallout 1 the team instead has opted to more reimagine and expand upon these locations and the elements within as to not to create a one-on-one experience of the original game but with a different perspective and gameplay, but rather instead creating an experience that will feel new for returning fans of the original game and to give new Fallout fans a taste of what the world and the campaign of the original game was like.

    As this looks like a very promising project being done by passionate Fallout fans we at NMA thought it was worth it to get into contact with the team and have an interview with them about their project and themselves to create more awareness of this total conversion and give interested people some more details on what they can expect.

    Joining me for this interview is the team's leader, Culinwino, who was kind enough to take some time from working on the project and real life to respond to some of the questions we have about the project itself, the team, but also a little bit about modding for current day Fallout games.



    Interview

    NMA: Hello, would you introduce yourself to the audience (you don't need to use your real name)

    culinwino: Hey there! I’m culinwino, and I’m the founder and project co-lead of Fallout: Vault 13.

    NMA: What is your role on the team and the project?

    culinwino: I do a little bit of everything, but I mainly work on tasks related to quests, game design, and scripting. I also manage the development team and monitor our social media accounts. I’m essentially a jack-of-all-trades that works where I’m needed.

    NMA: How long has the project been running now?

    culinwino: Development on Fallout: Vault 13 began in February 2021.

    NMA: So how did the project start out?

    culinwino: I was at the tail end of development on my most recent quest mod, James’ Ruin, and I wanted my next project to be a challenge. At the time, I had been making mods in the Fallout 4 Creation Kit for over six years, and I was prepared to take on the challenge of starting a major project. I’ve always appreciated the Fallout series, especially the classic titles, so I started making a few map prototypes to see if a Fallout 1 remake project was feasible or not. While these prototypes were in development, I stumbled upon a video that was recently uploaded to YouTube featuring a fully-functional Fallout 1 skill system in Fallout 4. I reached out to Kreb, the uploader of the video, and we decided to team up. We would use my world map system and his skill system. Even though Kreb isn’t active on the project anymore, Fallout: Vault 13 would not have been possible without the skill system he created, which we still use to this day.

    20231113090638_1.jpg

    NMA: What is your own background with the Fallout franchise?

    culinwino: My first Fallout game was Fallout: New Vegas, which I played for the first time in 2012. Shortly afterwards, I played Fallout 3 before playing the original Fallout game. I quickly fell in love with the series and began making mods for Fallout: New Vegas in early 2013.

    NMA: And what other games and game genres inspire you?

    culinwino: Outside of Fallout, I enjoy other Bethesda role-playing games such as Starfield and The Elder Scrolls. I also enjoy competitive games such as Dota 2 as well as indie games, such as Outer Wilds.

    NMA: Do you also have any other experience in coding and game development before this project?

    culinwino: Outside of my experience making Fallout 4 mods, I have some university level programming training which has given me a slight edge when it comes to working on some of the more advanced elements of Fallout: Vault 13. We’ve remade the entire skill, perk, and trait system from scratch, as well as an entirely new random encounter system inspired by the original Fallout game. It would have taken much longer to get these systems functional without the habits I picked up from learning in a classroom.

    NMA: Is this the first project of this kind of scale you all have worked on?

    culinwino: I briefly worked on other large scale modding projects, such as Fallout 4: New Vegas and Skywind, but Fallout: Vault 13 is my first time leading a project this large. I had never really collaborated with other people until I started working on this project. Outside of the large scale modding projects, I made quest mods for Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas. These quest mods had development cycles that lasted several months. My largest quest mod, James’ Ruin, had a playtime of about three hours.

    NMA: Did the team members meet on the same forum(s)/Discord channel(s)?

    culinwino: I found Kreb, the project co-founder, through a reddit post. Many of our early contributors found the project through Kreb’s video showing off the skill system. Early on, we did not really make an effort to make ourselves known, as the project was so early in development, we had no idea if the idea was viable or not. In spite of that, our discord server quickly filled up with members through word-of-mouth alone, a few of which became very valuable team members.

    Showcase01.png

    NMA: How is the team organized? Do you have managers?

    culinwino: We have a system in place where each department (2D, 3D, etc.) has its own department lead that points members in the right direction in terms of what work to do. When we aren’t working toward a major milestone, members are encouraged to follow their passions and work on whatever they find interesting.

    NMA: Is there any kind of production plan or schedule?

    culinwino: While we have a reasonably structured production plan, our schedule is a little bit more loose. Our team is composed of dedicated volunteers, many of whom balance careers and family commitments. Even though our schedules can be fluid, our passion and dedication drives us to create something truly exceptional. We’re all in this for the long haul, and we’re excited about what’s to come.

    NMA: Did the team also make a design document for the Fallout 1 remake?

    culinwino: We have created several reference documents for us to use while creating Fallout: Vault 13. While they may not be in a centralized design document, our resources cover nearly every aspect of our project, from crafting to random encounters, ensuring that all developers are on the same page.

    NMA: If so, how did you plan the changes due to the different game engine?

    culinwino: We handle changes from the base game on a case-to-case basis. Early on, one of our big challenges was determining how to handle the new world map system. Since the world of Fallout 1 is so big, there is no way that we would be able to fit all of it into one open world area, without compressing everything. We ended up settling on the compromise of splitting the world into five unique playable areas, which gives us the best of both worlds when it comes to the layout of the open world. Other challenges were handled in a similar way. Our goal is to strike a balance between the old and the new by making acceptable compromises to maintain quality and timely development time.

    Showcase02.png

    NMA: And the additions to the map and possibly quests? How did the team's designers plan those out?

    culinwino: As of right now, we’re mainly focusing on adding new locations, and not necessarily new quests or characters. As with everything else, this is subject to change depending on the feedback we get. For right now, our new locations combined with the quests from the original seem to work well for what we’re trying to accomplish.

    NMA: If permitted, could you give the audience an example of some of the new content your team has added?

    culinwino: We’ve added a considerable number of new locations to Fallout: Vault 13 to bring the world to life. These range from small caves to gift shops and even abandoned towns. These new locations help fill in the gaps between the major locations from the original game, and bring the exploration experience closer to what you would expect from a modern Fallout game.

    NMA: Will Fallout Vault 13 also bring back some of the factions and other ideas that were planned for the original Fallout but that got cut for various reasons? Think the Vipers for example, Jackals, Thinker Nightkin, etc.

    culinwino: For now, we plan on focusing on content that was present in the base game, and not so much cut content. I feel like introducing new factions would be interesting and would definitely be possible after the mod is released, depending on how interested people are. And before you ask - no. We will not bring back S'Lanters.

    NMA: Any suggestions on writing a design document for aspiring designers such as myself?

    culinwino: Don’t be afraid to iterate on your design document. It can be intimidating to put your ideas down on paper. Don’t worry about how things are laid out either. Getting caught up on how to organize stuff can be pretty overwhelming, and sometimes rapid-fire bullet points can help you develop your best ideas.

    NMA: As Fallout 4 is a much more action driven game with focus being on the player's own skills rather than that of the player character, with combat checks being based on character skills, attributes, and the roll of the dice to to determine a successful hit or a miss as was in the original Fallout 1, has this also been taken into account with any combat segments of the game? Parts in which the player is supposed to fight NPCs being redesigned to accommodate this difference in gameplay?

    culinwino: While we’ve maintained much of the combat system from Fallout 4, we made sure to reintroduce some elements from the original. Fallout: Vault 13 will have luck-based critical hits (and misses!) that will be sure to spice up the combat.

    NMA: Have you made use of any of the fan developed mods to expand the original gameplay of Fallout 4 itself? Say like returning skills as a gameplay element?

    culinwino: We’ve made use of a number of modders’ resources to expand the gameplay of Fallout: Vault 13. For example, we’ve reintroduced the classic skill system, as well as traits and perks from the original game. We’ve also designed our own dynamic random encounter system as well, to closely mimic that of the original Fallout.

    20231113090618_1.jpg

    NMA: Has there also been any additional coding needed in order to make gameplay changes work? And was this difficult?

    culinwino: Getting these new gameplay changes to work has definitely required a fair amount of trial and error. Unlike with Skyrim, there aren’t a ton of resources available for the scripting side of things apart from old forum posts, so figuring out how things work has been pretty challenging. Fortunately, I can say the new systems are cool enough to make it worth it.

    NMA: The change of gameplay could also affect how the storyline and quests would function in the TC compared to the original game. Have the designers been able to convert the original content directly into Fallout 4 or has the team had to modify original quests to work in the Fallout 4 game structure?

    culinwino: So far, we haven’t had to make any major changes to any quests. It’s pretty fortunate that most of the quests are pretty simple on the scripting side of things, which makes getting them in-game pretty straightforward.

    NMA: What is your response to people who feel that your remake may stray too much away from the original?

    culinwino: From the beginning, I feel we’ve had a healthy view of what we’re seeking to accomplish with this remake. As we’ve said before, at the end of the day, Fallout: Vault 13 is a Fallout 4 mod, so naturally, it may stray from the original game a little bit. In spite of that, we’re working hard to make sure everything fits the bleak atmosphere of Fallout 1.

    NMA: Do you think the TC may create an interest in newcomers to the franchise to check out the first two Fallout games?

    culinwino: I certainly hope so! One of the big reasons I started this project was to get people interested in the original Fallout games. If we can get people more interested in the original games, I would consider this project a success.

    Showcase03.png

    NMA: Will the team also bring in new people to do replacement voice work or additional voice work?

    culinwino: We plan on bringing on a brand new cast of voice actors to revoice many of the notable characters from the original game. For copyright reasons, we are unable to use voice acting from the original game. Our new voice actors will maintain the spirit of the original games.

    NMA: With voice generation AI becoming a more useful tool regarding game development, have you also considered making use of it?

    culinwino: We don’t intend on using voice generation AI to aid in the development of Fallout: Vault 13. There are so many potential issues that could potentially pop up when using an emerging technology like this, so we’ll be erring on the side of caution by not using it. This is mainly due to the ethical and copyright considerations regarding using someone’s voice without their permission. I definitely think using AI tools such as ChatGPT can help organize ideas and aid with problem solving, however. While these tools aren’t quite ready for creative tasks such as writing, they have proven themselves to be quite helpful.

    NMA: Will the protagonist be voiced like in Fallout 4 or be a 'silent' player character? (we can see his or her dialogue lines but we do not hear them spoken)

    culinwino: The protagonist will be silent in Fallout: Vault 13. We decided this would be the best choice for us, as in Fallout, the Vault Dweller can be anyone, male or female, between the ages of 16 and 35. We also took into consideration some of the feedback of the voiced protagonist in Fallout 4 when making this decision.

    NMA: What would be the best way for people who are interested in your project to follow its development?

    culinwino: You can follow our development by joining the Fallout: Vault 13 discord server: https://discord.gg/NuzmgCsjuU

    You can also find us on Twitter/X at @FalloutVault13.

    We’re also on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHXEM4gIBbyrSxWVQCLxf-g.

    Finally, we’re also on Instagram at @fallout4vault13.

    NMA: Will there be any build releases for those people that are interested? Or a demo?

    culinwino: We plan on releasing a playable demo for Fallout: Vault 13. This playable demo will feature the entirety of “The Inyo”, the playable area in which you’ll be able to explore Vault 13 and 15, Shady Sands, and everything in between. We’ve been working hard on it for the past year, and we hope to release it soon.

    NMA: Is the team looking for new talent to add the project? If so, what skills and knowledge would you be interested in?

    culinwino: Yes, we are! Anybody interested can find a list of our currently open positions on this page! https://docs.google.com/document/d/18wESj-o6NYgFz4CrVCAwZ0SCzv7Ww5eDz5D9bnyhrd4/edit?usp=sharing

    NMA: Though Fallout 1 TC is not finished for a long time, has it made any of the team interested in working on other projects in the future? or maybe even going professional?

    culinwino: After I’m finished working on Fallout: Vault 13, I am definitely interested in making an indie game and pursuing other game development endeavors. Seeking a job at a game studio may not be out of the question as well.

    Showcase04.png

    NMA: Any fun anecdotes from your experience on working on this project you would like to share with the audience?

    culinwino: There are countless silly stories we have from our time working on Fallout: Vault 13. For a few weeks, we had a phantom car that would follow you around the map any time you tried to walk away from it. There was also the… phallic shaped rock someone snuck into a build one time. We have a channel in our development server where we document silly things that have happened during development, and being able to remember these anecdotes alone means it was totally worth it.

    NMA: What do you think of some of the other Fallout fan projects that have also been working on making new content for the original Fallout games, or Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, and 4? Any project that you feel sounds good?

    culinwino: We’re definitely fans of Fallout: London here on the Vault 13 team. Our projects regularly collaborate and exchange assets and team members. For Fallout: New Vegas, I’m personally excited for Fallout: Nuevo Mexico and Fallout: Ashfall, both of which are really intriguing. While Fallout: Vault 13 is being made in Fallout 4, I am really stoked about Nuevo Mexico and Ashfall carrying on the legacy of Fallout: New Vegas nearly 15 years after release.

    NMA: Any suggestions from experience or inspirational thoughts for people who want to follow your team's example and make a large gameplay mod for a Fallout game or another game?

    culinwino: Start small and be ready to learn. Getting the project to the point where it is now was no easy feat, so I strongly recommend being persistent and determined if you decide you want to make a total conversion mod. If you’re less experienced, start small and steadily work your way up before deciding to commit to a huge project. I’ve worked on Fallout: Vault 13 nearly every single day for the past three years, and if you think that sounds overwhelming, just remember that passion and dedication will separate your project from those that fade into obscurity.



    Thanks go to culinwino for taking the time to respond and project co-lead Giblib who assisted with the screenshots.

    We will continue to follow this project as it progresses.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 13
  2. TheKingofVault14

    TheKingofVault14 Fallout Fan For Life!

    603
    Jul 5, 2022
    Fantastic interview!!! Thanks @The Dutch Ghost for sharing, and kudos to Culinwino for taking the time to do this interview!

    :clap: :clap: :clap: :ok:

    Also, Article SHARED! On Instagram & Twitter.

    :cool:
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  3. ironmask

    ironmask A Smooth-Skin

    678
    Mar 10, 2018
    It looks very promising so far. I like how they re-imagine locations from F1 instead of making a straight one to one copy, like the beginning cave. I think it does decent job of replicating F1's atmosphere so far, but sadly I think they will never be able to fully replicate it, no matter how hard they try. F1's grungy gritty pixelated graphics played a huge part in creating F1's bleak atmosphere.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  4. The_Proletarian

    The_Proletarian Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!
    Staff Member Admin

    Mar 15, 2012
    Great job!
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  5. raynor009

    raynor009 Yeehaw!?!

    386
    Apr 29, 2012
    what got me interested in this project the most is seeing how they recreate the 2D sprites in 3D. is why still play that piece of shit 76. sometimes they drop things from old Fallouts and its cool to see them in 3D. good stuff. hopefully we can play this in the next 5 years. and it wouldn't hurt if they show some more screenshots every so often.

    i think maybe its what bethesda should start doing. remake the old games, instead of pumping out casual and soulless turds.
    fallout 3 find dad
    fallout 4 find son
    fallout 5 find my tranny mom
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2023
  6. Ed of Vault 13

    Ed of Vault 13 Lowly Old User

    18
    Sep 7, 2011
    Popped in because the recent showcases. I like the way they're approaching the world map design. I think its a competent compromise and the world design shown so far looks great.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  7. The_Proletarian

    The_Proletarian Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!
    Staff Member Admin

    Mar 15, 2012
    God damn you forgot to ask about Radio Stations! Will the Children of the Cathedral have a radio station that you can tune into for example? Or a neutral radio station broadcasting from the Hub?
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2024
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  8. PaxVenire

    PaxVenire A Smooth-Skin

    645
    Oct 29, 2020
    Since it seems The Dutch Ghost won't be around to respond to this, I asked this question on their Discord to which the mod devs state there will be a radio station similar to the modern games. As to where the radio source originates, they wouldn't say. A surprise, perhaps.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1