The original Fallout 3/Van Buren Phenomenon

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by Sagez, Sep 22, 2020.

Do you like the original concept of F3?

Poll closed Oct 13, 2020.
  1. Yes, it's great

    10 vote(s)
  2. It's ok, but nothing spectacular/special

    5 vote(s)
  3. No, it's overrated/incomplete anyway

    0 vote(s)
  1. Sagez

    Sagez It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Oct 29, 2013
    I wanted to discuss the ideas behind the original Fallout 3. Were those ideas good? Was it going to be a success? Would it be a breakthrough for this franchise? Or is it overhyped? What does it mean to you?

    I personally think that we may talk about the Van Buren phenomenon, because I think there is more to it than the fact that it never came out (and here many people would assume that people interested in VB are simply dissatisfied and prefer to image that it would be an ideal Fallout = meant to succeed).

    There were many attemps to ''bring back'', ''finish'' or ''revive'' it - but I think that all modders are creating their own version of it, just like historians do not reconstruct history (it's not possible), they create a narrative.

    Right now there are two big projects: Fallout: Yesterday [Fallout 2 engine/ has playable demo] by hexer/PJ and Project Van Buren [Unity 3d engine] by Hardboiled Wanderer. Both Artists are brilliant and we, Fallout fans, are lucky to have them among us. I simply wish them all the best.

    So... I'll try to show you how I see the original F3 and what I think. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

    Warning: there will be major spoilers below.

    1. Big world & rural setting

    Hmm, enough said. In terms of locations, F3 was going to have roughly the same amount of places to visit as Fallout 2 (let's say: 20 locations, not counting minor or cut locations). Four southwest states. F3 locations would be more diverse - Tibbets, Grand Canyon, Nursery, Denver - very different places. Fallout 2 has nothing like them, it is generally about encountering more and more civilised places and there are several big cities. Post-post-apocalyptic much.

    F3 drops you in the middle of the map where you're surrounded by various tribals and being pursued by robots. Nice contrast, huh? Guns (not even talking about energy weapons) would be probably pretty scarce. A lot of people complain about how in Fallout 2 you can easily find plenty of ammo and guns early in the game. Weapon progression would probably be different in F3. Later you find out that the ''civilized'' guys like NCR and BOS are weak and/or in retreat. Tribals in Fallout 2 aren't interesting (Arroyo/Umbra/random war parties) - F3 has all kinds of different tribals - tech tribals, dog tribals, militant matriarchy tribals (I love the concept of Diana and Hecate!), trains tribals (lulz!) etc, etc.

    Big cities? Umm, Jericho and Hoover Dam? But that's a stretch...

    So yeah, I find it pretty interesting to put PC in a wild and hostile environment like this, instead of making him visit more and more technologically advanced cities. Want to have the best weapons? Craft them, find them (die a lot), buy from BOS or NCR, maybe from caravaneers...

    Starting in the middle of the world is interesting. What's better: later in the game you could probably use trains to move between certain places that are connected by railways. Not only cars, nice.

    2. Base building & crafting

    This is minor, but those two elements are very popular in games now and I think it's good to have it. In 2003 it would mean more than it means now.

    3. The Enemy

    Robots would provide a decent mystery. Players would expect them to be an endgame threat probably.

    Presper is an ok bad guy I guess. He would've been better than Horrigan (one dimensional character) and would probably be worse than Master. He may be smart, but is it enough? Can such an old (and weird) man be charismatic? I'm not sure.
    Corrupt & disillusioned NCR soldiers are more interesting than Enclave fanatics though. Most players would assume that the NCR guys are always good.

    5. Plague mechanic

    Awesome! I guess that we don't know the full details, but as time would progress, some NPCs would get ill and some would even die. The player would probably notice something sooner or later. It could be punishing in a fun way - player health gradually deteriorating, important NPCs dying, gameworld becoming more and more empty... hardcore. Eat healthy paste.
    Plague could change many aspects of the gameplay.
    Time is the enemy!...
    (haha Fallout 1 timer hate intesifies)

    6. Fallout in space

    Nice. A new thing after secret bases in F1 and oil rig in F2. It's all about the execution though. Would it be epic? Probably. I like this idea - a really good place for grande finale... and to start a nuclear holocaust perhaps.

    7. Other stuff

    New enemies, weapons, armors, companions - I like it all. Speech would probably get nerfed (divided into more skills). The Hanged Man would be a great, tricky companion as he would be strong, but would put the player in genocidal situations (hating almost everyone everywhere). Devs would probably not repeat the mistake of making any weak companions (Fallout 2). Real-time combat mode and fatigue? Nice as well.

    In my opinion F3 would bring many new ideas to Fallout - and born ghouls also seem better than talking deathclaws. And the story of Harold would be wisely concluded in the Nursery.

    That's not all, but... this post is already long. Yes, I like F3/VB. It would probably be good - if not, modders would fix it I believe!

    That's it. What do you think? Can we talk about it's whole phenomenon? Or not? Is too much to say?
  2. Alphons

    Alphons National Beholder

    Aug 9, 2017
    I'd have to play it to be entirely certain, but the game sounds tedious- timers upon timers and unkillable enemies constantly pursuing you would become annoying for me after first playthrough.

    Plague is really interesting, but I'm not a fan of Presper. Design docs make him sound like a weaker Elijah.

    I like the faction conflicts described in design docs.

    New skills would break up a bit Small Guns/ Speech/ Lockpick meta.

    Fatigue and option to spare enemies could add some more depth to the encounters.

    More retard dialogue and dumb journal entries would be great.
  3. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
    I think basically everything strong about Van Buren was recycled and given time to cook conceptually in the oven for New Vegas and as such was done infinitely better. Presper/Elijah, the Powder Gangers, Big MT/Tibbets/Boulder Dome/Sierra Madre, the BOS-NCR war, Graham and the Legion, New Canaan, Crimson Caravan, morally complex NCR, The Nursery/Vault 22, et cetera. I feel like many of the Van Buren iterations of these ideas feel underbaked compared to their eventual iteration in Vegas. Similarly, the crafting system in Vegas seems better than what would have turned up in Van Buren.

    Presper's storyline as a villain was very weak, just a poorer iteration of the Enclave plotline with a more vexing punishment for taking your time/exploring than the Master's Army/Waterchip with the Plague and ODYSSEUS. Hoover Dam and the DLC storylines were far, far better.

    I think ultimately Van Buren presented conceptual and thematic elements/styles that have come to be part of my favourite bits of Fallout (The rural tribalism, americana mysticism, frontier civilization etc) but I think IMO they were just carried to fruition much better in NV. WHo knows, if Van Buren had eventually come out the final iterations may have been closer to NV than the design docs we have.
  4. Ugly Kid

    Ugly Kid Still Mildly Glowing

    May 9, 2018
    I think it might've been, to many Fallout 2 fans, what many Fallout 1 fans thought of Fallout 2. I wouldn't be one of those people though, I think I would've loved Van Buren, I'm fairly certain they would've cut down on the timers after it was finished too.

    There's always a chance that it could've been of the quality of a Bethesda Fallout. Very small chance, but like the Bethesda games, I really love the general ideas of the plot, many other things could've been done differently though. Also like the Bethesda games, I personally really like the locations, (some of the)factions, companions, creatures, vehicles, weapons, and much more.

    Despite all of the flaws present in the design documents, I really like Van Buren, and it would be great to have it see the light of day officially one day. Although I wish they didn't retcon Cheyenne Mountain.
  5. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
    I always thought you could get away with it being a soft retcon. In my PnP headcanon Cheyenne Mountain is a nuked out crater....because of the BoS at the end of Tactics destroying the Calculator.
  6. ElloinmorninJ

    ElloinmorninJ Where'd That 6th Toe Come From?

    Jun 25, 2019
    Hey, do you got any docs or anything to your PnP? I’ve heard you mentioning it before and I’ve wanted to get info on it
  7. Yamu

    Yamu Le Fromage Vieux oTO Moderator Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Jul 26, 2003
    If it was released as intended it would have been one of the strongest RPGs of its era, I think. The general feel would have been a lot closer to F1 and the part of F2 that was developed before Tim Cain and co. left the team, which is both good and bad but would have been very much to my tastes, personally. A lot of the features and systems they had slated were pretty novel for the time.

    I would definitely still be on these boards in the year 2020 picking apart every little thing it did wrong, too.
  8. Mr Fish

    Mr Fish Slippy sloppy, The

    Sep 11, 2010
    I'm under no assumption that it would automatically be amazing. It would have its own set of issues and some problems I have with it is some of the gameplay mechanic changes and dumbing down of skills.

    Less is less, that simple, you gonna merge several skills then you better replace them with others. Not like It'd be hard. Split Science into Academics, Mechanics and Electronics. Add in Climbing and Evasion. Already there you've turned one skill into 3 and added 2 and I should not have to explain how these skills would be used in game. It should be obvious as to their applications. It's not like we're talking about adding in a Sorting Out Christmas Light Cables skill.

    To me it's always felt like Fallout would never truly improve upon its original concept and that it would start to drift towards more traditional RPG designs just like everything does. Streamline streamline streamline. But what I cared about the most with Fallout is the lore itself. And FNV has a lot of good writing to its worldbuilding to solidify its lore. Van Buren's design documents aren't 100% accurate as to what the final implementation of it all would be but... I like Van Buren's ideas far more.

    Circle Junction, Dog City, Reservation, Ciphers, New Canaan, that dome place, tons of interesting locations and factions. Almost like every location was written to stand out. To be iconic. To be memorable. Contrast that with FNV and most interesting things are undeveloped. Such as the casino's. And other things definitely suffer from the engine and lack of development time such as The Kings and their involvement with Freeside. Maybe it's the voice acting or facial animations or stiff animations that doesn't leave much for the imagination but Even 10 years ago I had a hard time really getting invested into it. I have such a hard time explaining it but Fallout NV feels like a shitty TV-Show with a good script. The writing itself is good but the actors, environment, camera work, lightning and effects all feel so generic. Fuck it, it's like a generic 80's zombie film but with a good story (FNV) compared to Day Of The Dead. FNV suffers greatly from the engine that it takes place in. Like when a character reaches the end of dialogue and executes another character their attack animations play out as if they were to just be in combat so they might shoot like 7 times and the other character might just stand there and take it for the first 3 and go "Ugh, Agh, Eeegh".

    I can't take FNV seriously because of that. And I think going 3D with Van Buren would have done the same thing unfortunately. But the concept of the factions and lore itself was very interesting to me. Jacobstown is... There. You meet Marcus. Yup. Super mutants just kinda loitering an old ski lodge. Some Khans spying on them but there's no development. Some mercs hired by someone harasses them and you deal with them and uh, yup. It's not all that interesting. Primm, Goodsprings, Novac, none of these places are interesting or even sensible to me because of how scaled down everything is in that fucking engine. Bright Brotherhood? I'd rather have Reservation. Dead Horses and Sorrows? I'd rather have Ciphers. Mojave Chapter BOS? I'd rather have Circle Junction.

    I'd say it's the same problem Obsidian has had with other RPG they've made since then. Obsidian is good at writing dialogue and characters and making a world make sense through the writing for why characters are acting in certain ways and why factions work in other ways. But they aren't that good at making something stand out. To make something pack a punch. To be iconic. They treat things 'too' seriously, 'too' down to earth (and whenever they don't do that we end up with fucking Old World Blues). Like, I think comics are far more interesting that superhero films because of how wild you can make a comic. You can create things that make sense within the confines of the comic page but when you try to apply it to real world it has to be real-ized(new word, I came up with it, shut up :V ) and the transition is awkward and doesn't work most of the time. Deadpool in the comics stands in start contrast to the films, in tone, in character interaction, in action scenes and in just plain colour.

    Prime example is Hoover Dam. They took it and made it "make sense". In turn we lost Trogs, a community and lake monsters. I want Trogs a community built around a dam and lake monsters. That's far more interesting to me. Instead of improving upon the old concepts and maybe ironing out the kinks they were just completely reiterated to the point that they're not even close to the same thing anymore. Which is why I do not think it is accurate to say FNV recycled Van Buren content. Unless the process of recycling means completely melting it down and changing it completely.

    Sure, Hoover Dam makes more sense now. As a setpiece and as the backstory for the world goes and its involvement in it. But now it's just a dam. Most interesting thing is assassinating the president there but that's it. They lost that spice. That little kick. A lot of the time it is fairly bland. You can have two old ladies sitting down and talking and have great writing for it but at the end of the day it is just two old ladies sitting down talking and while every bit of dialogue is well written it's not what I have come to care about.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  9. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
  10. Sagez

    Sagez It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Oct 29, 2013
    Thanks for votes and comments so far; looks like the majority sees at least some uniqueness in the original concept.

    I agree with Mr Fish. As much as I like New Vegas, it really is conservative when compared to Van Buren.

    I must add that I probably also prefer the 2253 timeline, because it opens a direct dialogue with Fallout 2, while the 2281 timeline of New Vegas feels more detached. We haven't discussed this aspect so far.

    No fans of Presper? I wonder what was planned for Presper in the final fight, what kind of tricks could he potentially use? Imagine one-shotting him with rocket launcher or landing a ''normal'' critical of 130 damage and killing him. In pnp I would give him 2 or 3 pip points which he could use to completely avoid being hit, so no instadeath. But that would not probably work in a video game. Soldiers, robots tanking for him? Traps? Would he ''invent'' something brilliant during the fight?

    Because I doubt that Presper is this kind of bad guy who would just overdose drugs (remember the infamous naked Atlas from Bioshock 1?), put on a heavy armor and bring a big minigun. How do you make Presper not only work, but also provide a fun challenge in the end?