So let's talk about Vault experiments.

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by Gnarles Bronson, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. Gnarles Bronson

    Gnarles Bronson regular mutant

    373
    Oct 30, 2011
    This is something that's been on my mind since I first discovered it in 2 however many years ago, and saw some peeps talking about it in another thread, but figured maybe it deserved a thread of its own. While I typically view 2 as the superior game, the vault experiments have never sat well with me.

    I'm sure plenty here are more familiar with the cannon than I am, so correct me if I say anything wrong; but what sense do they make? It doesn't seem very realistic to me that either a private corporation or the government (I'm not sure who's idea they were) would think running a series of random deadly experiments on the last vestiges of the human race was a good idea.

    I would think just trying to survive a thermonuclear war would be enough of a goal, so it's always seemed weird to me that you're going to sacrifice entire populations out of only a small number of vaults... for a goal maybe I'm just missing?

    To me it makes a lot more sense that the waterchip in 1 broke on its own and they had to go find another one, rather than it was only given 1 waterchip (assumingly knowing it would break) when others got backups -- just to see what happens.
     
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  2. DarkCorp

    DarkCorp Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Oct 27, 2003
    I didn't like the idea much either, the whole NWO/ shadow government conspiracy shlock felt a bit our of place. But yea, just my opinion. I think the experiments had something to eo with colonisation.
     
  3. PossibleCabbage

    PossibleCabbage Vault 22 Survivor

    889
    Jul 2, 2015
    The most sensible explanation I've come across for "the Vaults were used as experiments" is that various pre-war power brokers realized that nuclear war was inevitable and that as a result earth would be more or less doomed (I mean they've already run out of oil). So they would need to colonize another planet after the dust from the war settles. So the vaults could serve as valuable experimental data on what happens to communities isolated for long periods of time. To gather better data you could organize it so certain crisis scenarios that could potentially arise in interstellar travel would arise in that vault, just to see how to handle them.

    So this justifies some of the vault experiments (a lot of the less wacky ones). I go back and forth on how appropriate the wacky ones are, since there is a theme common throughout Fallout's streak of very dark humor that the pre-war folks in power saw really very little value in human lives that were not their own. So it's conceivable that there would be some vaults which were simply the results of sadism. Remember that there were 122 public vaults and an unspecified number of private ones. You could reserve "the preservation of humanity" for the private vaults containing the elite, and simply amuse yourself with the suffering of the proles.
     
  4. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    Agreed here too. I never was for them, the whole conspiracy thing felt slightly stupid.
     
  5. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    It makes all the sense in the world. "Social experiments" are not mad scientist evil pulp fiction tales, contrary to what a certain licensing rights buyer would have you believe. What part of Richardson's explanation never sat well with you? It made perfect sense, even if it was frightening. That was the POINT! The vaults were a big experiment that worked almost exactly how they were intended. That didn't make them "evil", and that didn't make them the subjects of random, kooky, whackey flights of fancy.

    People's lives WERE SAVED by the vaults. As the government saw it, even if they were deliberately and unwittingly subjected to unwanted conditions, they would have been grateful for their lives anyway! The undisclosed private vaults, like any bomb shelter, were there for the pure purpose of keeping groups of people alive, sure, but that doesn't mean the vaults failed at this, either. Vault 15 brought a new civilization to the wastes, even if the vault itself became uninhabitable due to a cave-in. That's REMARKABLE, and the simple fact that it was a test of the stresses of intercultural mixing in a small space doesn't make it any less so.

    There's no "sadism" visible in any of their tests. It's all cold, rational, pragmatic tests to see what needs to be known to make survival and repopulating the world possible.

    And that is EXACTLY what happened. Vault 13 was meant to be supplied with an abundance of back-up supplies to guarantee that its self-sufficiency would last. Getting only 1 water chip was a clerical error (of colossal proportions, but still just an accident) and said chip breaking 84 years later was NOT intended. The gag of finding HUNDREDS of water chips in Vault 8 (Vault City's vault) was a tongue-in-cheek poke at the player's turmoil from the previous game, as well as an in-universe nod to the fact that Vault 13 was MEANT to have backup water chips, and therefore NEVER suffer from the loss of broken systems.

    Unlike, for example, Vault 53, which WAS designed to have regularly breaking equipment test its occupants. But these weren't water chips. These were flickering lights. Inefficient generators. Flawed products that had short shelf life. Again, this was NOT intended to put anyone's lives in peril, just to simply test the stresses of various circumstances on closed inhabitants.
     
  6. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    The vault experiment made sense in Fallout 1 and 2, like it or not.

    It was perverted to evil mad science shit in Fallout 3.

    While New Vegas was better then Fallout 3 it still had the remains of that 'evilz' taint, but to a MUCH lesser extent.

    Fallout 4 will be a repeat of Fallout 3 most likely.
     
  7. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    I found it an unecesary "problematic" added to both Super mutants and Enclave and Raiders and many "problematics" allready existing. It also seemed like an unsolvable problematic, like, what narrative purpose does it really serve, other than to entertain? Most of the vault experiments described made me smile, when imagining the reprecussions, such as the vault where equipment breaks down regularily - a whole vault w people who's last nerve is hanging by a thread, hi laaa rious!

    So, to me, they are not lore to be taken dead serious, but some light-hearted world-details that are meant to be humorous
     
  8. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    World details ARE lore. Just because they're background concepts, and not central to the player's experience of the game (unlike these modern "exploration" games where... that's ALL that matters) doesn't make them not lore to be taken "dead serious". They are. They just weren't in your face about it all.
     
  9. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Gender Fluid Skeleton Man Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    Lore is what makes RPG's worth playing.
     
  10. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    I meant - they are not lore that one should take super-seriously, as in, the games are not called "The Vault Experiments!", it is a background world detail.
    I didn't mean "they are not lore", they ARE lore - but they are minor lore.

    And emphasizing: To me. To me, the vault-experiment angle is a piece of less-significant lore, that I don't pay too much attention to, other than for chuckles.
     
  11. PossibleCabbage

    PossibleCabbage Vault 22 Survivor

    889
    Jul 2, 2015
    I do think from a design perspective, it's worthwhile to consider what worthwhile data could be gleaned from the vault experiment when designing a vault. That approach is going to immediately going to rule out the 999 women/men and 1 man/woman style of vault (since it's pretty obvious those are going to go badly) but something like a 75/25 gender split each way would be more sensible.

    Something like Vault 34 can make sense from the perspective of "if we're going to have weapons on our generation ships colonizing other worlds, what happens when people get their hands on them?" but it's somewhat questionable what value the social experiment in Vault 11 (as much as I love that one) has.
     
  12. Radiosity

    Radiosity Writiosity

    464
    Sep 9, 2015
    11 is one of the most important, though. The human ability to consciously sacrifice oneself for others is kinda important in a variety of contexts, and it's certainly going to be extremely useful figuring out how people actually react in a situation like that, whether forced, democratically chosen, voluntary, whatever. The fact that no one even considered disobeying until there were only 5 people left is telling.

    A more subtle experiment where people are placed into a situation in which they're 'forced' to sacrifice themselves but they believe themselves to be in control would likely be an interesting experiment for a potential vault as well (ie, having machinery and things that is rigged to malfunction or similar, resulting in situations where people might have to sacrifice themselves to save others and/or save the vault itself). Having them believe they're in control and consciously making the decisions themselves rather than being forced as in Vault 11 would provide a completely different data set.
     
  13. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    It IS important, though. But the difference is that the story didn't revolve around "HOLY SHIT, isn't this a twist???" like some lame Shamalan film. The build up of the reveal was something lingering and festering in the back of the player's mind. "Why is this going on?" They'd wonder, but more pestering would be "How do I rescue my family?" The central story was set in the aftermath of a post apocalypse, and it was all about human beings coping with their daily living. It was NOT about what happened decades or centuries past, before the bombs dropped. The Vault Experiment was an integral facet of the lore of the vaults, which were an integral source of background lore for the player character in the first 2 games, so it was important. But by contrast, they were NOT this in-you-face gimmick being rubbed in your face. True, the fact that Vault 15 ADVERTISED structural reinforcement, only for the player to already know by the time they read this that the reinforcements had catastrophically failed, was all just a dark humor joke in Fallout. Likewise, all the bigotry and xenophobia and hypocrisy experienced in Vault City, leading up to donating "preferred genetic material" to their gene banks, was also a grim joke about the situation. But they didn't lessen the impact of what was going on. Vault City WAS crippled in many, many ways, and any degree of exploring the city's situation would reveal that it was doomed in more ways than one, as a consequence of its circumstances, and these circumstances were the indirect result of the experiment, just as much as NCR's founding was an indirect result. It's not about "Hey, let's look at this crazy situation here!" nor was it about "Hey, let's feel this emotional roller coaster because of a crazy twist!" It was an experience of living (via playing the game) in this world, and how that makes you feel. And this world is personified by its individual components, its multi-faceted lore.

    The world is colored by the events that transpired within it, although those events weren't always integral to the GAMES' stories. The same could be said about the fate of Richard Grey as could be said about the Vault Experiment. In Fallout, the story of Richard Grey was the game's big twist that players didn't see coming. You heard about Richard Grey from some character in some town that ultimately was involved in little more than a wild goose chase. Sure, you found A deathclaw, but that wasn't the real cause of the caravan troubles that you were sent to investigate, and Butch wouldn't hear otherwise. Then, months later, having traveled through several more settlements, found your precious water chip- which WAS the central focus of all your attention -and been set upon a new mission after delivering it, you eventually find your way into the Military Base. You're able to piece together that this is the place Harold told you about, and some part of your mind begs the question, "What ever happened to Richard Grey, anyway?" But that was decades ago, no one's heard from him, meanwhile these vats are pumping out super mutants and you have to stop them, so once more, it's not really a concern of yours. Then, whether by diplomacy, or force, or stealth, you make your way to the bottom of the base, the control station of the vats beckons you, and you're here to put a stop to the creation of these super mutants. As you check the computer terminals, you find several recordings that catch your eye. One of them tells you the intimate history of the founding of the Brotherhood of Steel, and that comes as an unexpected surprise. NOTHING thus far had indicated that they had anything to do with this place! "Huh, what a find!" The next is corrupted, and cannot be read, but the next... chills you to your core. You find the "last words" of Richard Grey! As you read on, his horrific story starts to sink in, and the pieces of the puzzle you hadn't ever really bothered to think about until now suddenly begin to fall into place. You're struck by the most unexpected twist of the game, Richard Grey IS the Master!!! It was never telegraphed, it was never shoved in your face as an important lore detail, and in fact, it doesn't even MATTER who the Master truly is or ever was; all you have to do is kill him and destroy the vats. Hearing out the Lieutenant explain the greatness of the Unity is just color, at this point. It's fluff next to your goal, but it's GREAT fluff! The same is true of the revelation you come upon about the fate of Richard Grey. It's not this big, looming mystery that you're constantly being reminded of throughout the entire game, but it IS a major facet of the game's lore.

    Basically, it was a mistake to make the modern games all about "this is what's important" being shoved in their face. Any mystery surrounding what you had to do or where you had to go or WHY any of this mattered was stripped away when the game was telegraphing it to you from the very beginning. There wasn't any REASON to look for Vault 106, but shortly after you begin your journey, you stumble upon it, and it's horrible, and that horror of what took place there is bombarding you every step of the way. "Okay, I get it, the people went crazy and killed each other. Alright already!!!" The methods that the story takes to bring along this long and joyful ride are COMPLETELY different, and the modern games focus on harassing the player with sensory input, not letting them discover these things on their own. You COULD pick up the trail on the whereabouts of your father by using the only leads from the start, heading to a saloon in the nearest town, where all the goings on are noticed and dispensed by its proprietor. Then proceed to the path he sets you on, into the ruins of D.C., which are intentionally designed like a linear maze with only one direction you can be heading, ultimately leading you to that ridiculously scripted sequence against a giant, entering GNR, and finding out where to head next. Then every step of the way, as you learn more and more about what's happening around you, you find where you need to go, but NOT because the game is holding your hand, not telling you "THIS IS WHAT'S HAPPENING!!! RAAAAAAAAAAAWR!!!!!!" Instead, you're treated to dialog options telling you what's the successful thing to say, and how successful you'll be at saying it, compass markers telling you exactly where to head to next, and all along the way you stumble into more and more vaults, making it painfully clear, "Horrible things happened here! WOOOOOO!"

    But at the end of the day, going by the subtlety and brilliant design of the originals, those revelations WERE important, but what made them revelations was HOW subtle they were. They weren't constantly reminding you that your mind was gonna be getting blown in t minus X hours. They let you naturally progress as you would, to eventually stumble upon these things as you would. Perhaps you never even MADE the connection between the logs uncovered in Mariposa and Harold's story and the sinister goings on beneath the Cathedral! Perhaps it was SO subtle, you didn't even realize how the vault experiment shaped the future of the wastes. But this was retconned when the modern games made a totally different model the means for how the story was interacted with the player and the character being played.

    These lore details were important, but they were handled with grace in the original stories. That's the major difference.
     
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  14. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    Can I say this again?

    And does anyone agree or disagree?
     
  15. PossibleCabbage

    PossibleCabbage Vault 22 Survivor

    889
    Jul 2, 2015
    I think that if there weren't "Vault Experiments" they would have needed to be invented sooner or later. Since aside from "get the pre-war thing" or "meet/kill the people living here" there's not a lot to do with Vaults. If the sole purpose of the vault was "keep people alive so they can repopulate the earth after the heat dies down" then they'd probably honestly be duller than other pre-war ruins you could invent. But one of the best parts about exploring pre-war ruins in Fallout is essentially performing archaeology to figure out what the heck happened in here years prior, so making the vaults into dungeon analogues in which something particularly unusual happened is probably a good idea from a design perspective.
     
  16. DarkCorp

    DarkCorp Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Oct 27, 2003
    F4 is all about more acshunz.

    The PA sequence feels more like a linear/OP moment rather than some armor that is storable. Like a COD, style, ' Get in that tank and do your thing, then leave it behind' after the sequence is over.

    Acshun FTW.
     
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  17. Delbert

    Delbert Vault-Tec Employee

    47
    Sep 16, 2015
    Truth.
     
  18. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    We still don't know that for sure, yet. It's more than likely, but still not yet certain. That whole display of being able to customize your power armor might imply that you CAN keep the stuff, and what that means is that with jet packs (I guess Bethesda took Yahtzee's "everything's better with jet packs" joke advise a little too seriously?) at regular availability, the vertical degree of exploring the map has been vastly increased. So, yay, more virtual real estate to hike through! All that really means is, unless the quality of content has been VASTLY improved, we're just gonna see more of the same lackluster "ooh, stuff to pilfer for no reason at all", but LOTS more of it.
     
  19. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Fossil

    Mar 16, 2013
    If I'm honest, I never liked the idea.

    In Fallout 2 at least, they were pretty tame. Basic experiments that weren't too stupid. Stuff that would legitimately test the future needs of the Enclave.

    Then Fallout 3 went all out with WACKY EXPERIMENTS WOOOOAAAAAHHH! HAHHAAH GARY! GARY! ISN'T THIS JUST WEIRD AND FUNNY!HAHAHA!

    I feel New Vegas managed to dial it back a bit and get a good balance, Vault 11 was absolutely excellent in particular. Even the more "wacky" Vaults like 21 were still interesting, it seemed like a slighly eccentric but still legitimate social experiment.
     
  20. Dr Fallout

    Dr Fallout Centurion

    Aug 17, 2015
    Basically my sum up as well. Fallout 3 just started the whole eccentric and depraved experiments. It's scary how much 'lore' that Fallout 3 introduced as canon. And people actually think it's an important contribution to Fallout.