V.A.T.S. article at DaC

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by Per, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. Per

    Per Vault Consort Staff Member Admin

    Apr 1, 2004
    Duck and Cover and NMA poster Cimmerian Nights has written an editorial on the V.A.T.S. combat system called "VATS: How Bethesda Set their Sights on the Lowest Common Denominator and Hit a Bullseye". The title will probably tell you whether you want to read the piece in its entirety, but here's a summary anyway:<blockquote>While from a role-playing standpoint VATS must be looked at as a failure to capitalize on basic RPG concepts, it certainly doesn’t spell the end for it. It’s showcasing of over-the-top violence and gore certainly holds the attention of the wider market that Bethesda intended to reach. It should be interesting to see what modifications if any Obsidian can incorporate with their upcoming spin-off based on the same engine. Ultimately, it is Bethesda and it design philosophy (mass market appeal at the expense of RPG foundation) that will dictate the inclusion of this gimmick in future titles, or it’s relegation to the scrap heap with other “innovative” cul-de-sacs.</blockquote>Hey, I remember using a much different combat system when visiting Scrapheap.
  2. Cimmerian Nights

    Cimmerian Nights So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Aug 20, 2004
    I'm certainly preaching to the choir with this one, but that was really the intent. The impetus behind this was putting our grievances down for newcomers rather than having to repeat them ad nauseum.
  3. alec

    alec White heterosexual male Orderite

    May 21, 2003
    Good idea, Cimmerian Nights. Decent article.
  4. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    yeah it was a nice read.

    This dev comments for me pretty much sum up nicely the bigest difference between Fallout 1 and Fallout 3

    My idea is to explore more of the world and more of the ethics of a postnuclear world, not to make a better plasma gun. Tim Cain, Fallout 1 Producer and Lead Programmer [6]

    Violence is funny! Lets all just own up to it! Violence done well is fucking hilarious. It’s like Itchy and Scratchy or Jackass –now that’s funny! Todd Howard [7]
  5. Dario ff

    Dario ff Where'd That 6th Toe Come From?

    Aug 19, 2008
    Where can I search for some more of Todd's retarded quotes?
  6. SharkClub

    SharkClub Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Dec 6, 2008
    I can't believe he said that. :shock:
  7. decline

    decline First time out of the vault

    Jun 14, 2007
    It was an ok article I thought but I really expected more deconstruction of VATS from the title and less of all the opening stuff. Most people reading it are probably painfully aware of most of it anyway.
    I really really, and I know this horse has been beaten over and over but I'll whack it again, disagree with the "dumbing down for console" argument though. There is no reason you couldn't play F1 or F2, or even Wasteland for that matter, on a console today and have it be pretty much the exact same game. Sure the interface would be a bit cluncky if directly exported, but it would still work. And a bit of tweaking the UI would be just as enjoyable. My PS3 is far more powerful than any of the computers I played Wasteland, F1 and F2 on...with the exception maybe of my current one.
    The platform has very little to do with why a game sucks I think. The demographics *might* be a bit different, but that is a big maybe. Most gamers I'm aware of have a computer and a console or two or three. It's just a bit easier to plop down in front of the console a lot of the time and not have to worry about compatibility. So I just don't get this console = dumb gaming thing. Bad design = dumb games and not the platform, unless we are talking about those 5 dollar pocket solitaire handhelds.
  8. TychoXI

    TychoXI Still Mildly Glowing

    Oct 20, 2008
    Well I think the thing's probably like this:

    PC gamer = usually, may have a console or two.
    Console gamer = usually doesn't play on PCs, and is a kid.

    And if it's of personal experiences, most of the gamers I'm aware of who own a console(s) barely use their PC for gaming and would have never played a game like Fallout. Those I know (including me) who played Fallout were and are 100% PC gamers (don't own consoles today). It's a little sad for sometimes there are good console exclusive games.
  9. Blackfang

    Blackfang First time out of the vault

    Jun 21, 2010
    A good article, sure. Shows both, that FO3 failed to realize in any meaningful way the TB RPG combat mechanic of its predecessors, and that the resulting FPS combat in it was terrible.

    One must say, that nowadays the only RPGs with relatively similar mechanic to the good old TB RPGs are the games on BioWare’s engines with pause-based combat (and, IMO, such system is quite good, and close enough to the old TB games... although I do understand that some may disagree). IMO, it’s quite obvious, that the situation won’t change to the better in the near future, and likely ever. One can only hope, that BioWare will continue making such games…

    Although, IMO, their last game, DA:O, promised to return the BG party-combat feel, turned out to be too combat-oriented. The main game still had a decent RP component, including one of the best romances in RPGs to the date. But the expansion, Awakening, had laughable RP, relying only on the lauded combat system.

    So, IMO, the top concern about any RPGs now should be not the combat, but the things that really separate them from some “adventures” – the storyline (NON-LINEAR storyline), and interactions with NPCs.

    I must say, that would FO3 have had both FPS combat and RP on par with Mass Effect (any of the two), I would have had little to no complaints about the game. I do quite understand, that such an opinion won’t be shared by some (or many...).

    So I am quite optimistic of the upcoming F:NV. According to the reviews, the changes to combat are quite good, and, IMO, if they live up to their promises, they’ll do about all that can be done with that engine. And I am almost completely confident about the RP, as Obsidian’s RPGs are my all-time favorites (namely NWN2:MotB and KotOR2:TSL).
    The only concern remains the traditional bugginess of Obsidian’s games (And FO3 already was the buggiest game I ever played...). But Alpha Protocol is relatively good (for Obsidian) in that aspect.
    So, IMO, everything looks good so far...

    Someone followed me thus far? Thanks, then, regardless of your opinions.
  10. Hellfate

    Hellfate First time out of the vault

    Jan 16, 2009
  11. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Believe. Thats actualy one of the things he said which even make somewehat sense.

    There have been many worse comments by him ...
  12. Cimmerian Nights

    Cimmerian Nights So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Aug 20, 2004
  13. x'il

    x'il Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Mar 3, 2009
  14. Kordanor

    Kordanor First time out of the vault

    Feb 13, 2009
    I am one of the guys you mentioned may disagree.
    BioWare is certainly making good games (coregames at least, the additions are horrible/overpriced) but imho the compromise between making some rules based on tabletop and making a combat system appeal to the masses is pretty bad in these games.
    This Pause based system basically devides players into two groups: The ones who want to see all the actions and animations and is probably playing on easy or medium and the other one which playing on hard expecting a tactical challenge.
    I am a member of the second group and I am quite disappointed how this system does not work out. It was like that in Baldurs Gate (the game you could win by mass summonning skelletons and just wait till the diashow is over and your army won the fight) and it stays like that even in Dragon Age, where the main "challenge" is to exploit the terrible stupid AI. Besides of that to solve these fights you need to press the pause key even more than once every second of "combat time", meaning even a turn based game would have been more fluent.
    There was another great game with this system called Das Schwarze Auge: Drakensang (very popular in Germany), also with a horrible combat. Due to the real time fight with pause function in conjunction with the lack of a good aggro and positional system the fight becomes a pain in the ass from time to time.

    Whereever you have this pause system and playing on max difficulty you have one thing in common:
    -You press Pause so damn often that you wish to have a turn based system
    -Somewhere the AI is lacking, either group members doing frustrational automated actions, positional issues or bad enemy ai
    -you tend to not optimize your fights as it tends to get annoying

    I agree that VATS is not the optimal system. But Fallout 3 has a hand full of other game design flaws which bother me far more (e.g. Stat system sucks, annoying respawning patrols) and actually I prefer an action/ first person based combat relying on attributes to a pseudo turnbased system.

    That's also a reason why I am not crying about X-Com getting a shooter combat system. It's just better than another crappy attempt to make a "tactical" real time fight with pause function.

    Unfortunately turn based is not seen as up to date anymore.
  15. Blackfang

    Blackfang First time out of the vault

    Jun 21, 2010
    Well, as I see it, your main complaint about the pause-based RPGs is the combat AI, but I really can't think of even one RPG with good combat AI, either pause or turn based.
    Pause system certainly introduces more exploits, but that's a single player game - whether you use those exploits is up to you. I always choose the difficulty and playstyle just the way I enjoy it (for example, I never use summoning).

    As for the FPS combat, as I said, I am quite fine with it, as long as it is done good.
    Although X-Com for me was always just it's combat (I'm really not into the whole "alien" thing). Too bad, that there are next to no TB/PB tactical squad games nowadays... (The last one I played was some of the new X-Coms and the last one I really liked... Why, that was our very own Fallout: Tactics.)
  16. Kordanor

    Kordanor First time out of the vault

    Feb 13, 2009
    Not just the AI, it's also the need to hammer your spacebar so often.
    In fact with this pause system you have a slower pace than in a turn based combat if you want to be as efficient as possible.

    Of course everyone should play with the difficutly he likes. But I am one of those who wants so play everything on the hardest.
    Though even I "broke" with the Dragon Age DLC and Add On and changed it to easy as it was plain waste of time.

    Just played the demo if tactics and didn't like it. I think it was about the same time of X-Com apocalypse when they were just making the move from turn based to real time.
  17. draeke

    draeke It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Dec 2, 2005
    Good conversation in the thread, i've got to agree though that what i think you're saying at least is that there's no happy median. PB does not equal TB. I do miss TB games, especially the RPG variety from the ultimas to wasteland, magic candle, you name it. i think it all really started around when the 80286-386 processor was it. I know that's taking it back, but I honestly don't even remember what I played FO1 on. My real point is that even before RPG porting to console became a big thing, RTS (and it's still laughable that 'strategy' is in the genre title) games were becoming the new big thing ala sid meyer, war/starcraft, etc. TB was being shelved in favor of RT and then from there the progression moved into MMOs, which is what i think really blurred the lines in the industry and brought about the need for constant action to market to the twitch kiddie masses. I would go as far as to say that the gaming industry for the most part gave up on the niche strategy/rpg/tb gamers in favor of RT with the popularity explosion and in some vain attempt began to include words like strategy, rpg, etc in an effort to appeal to us. so what we have now is a product intended for the mass market with 'elements' thrown in to appeal to us the more mature gamer. I think the focus has really shifted to selling more more mass market titles and weve been thrown a bone here or there to retain our gaming dollars so they continue to include elements that we want as opposed to the way it was in the late 80's and 90's. Unfortunately, I think when the gaming industry tried to make 'our' type of game appeal to the mass market it became a real game-changer (pun intended) when it realized it could make far more money with fps/rts/ etc trash by appealing to the younger gamers and that is what eventually killed the TB more strategically oriented RPG. Appreciate any comments
  18. Kordanor

    Kordanor First time out of the vault

    Feb 13, 2009
    Being able to port things to the console might be a reason for less TB as well, yes. I would not necessarily call it older audience or kids on the other side. I think it's more realistic to divide between "geeks" and casuals instead. People playing the old Fallout Games or the first "Das Schwarze Auge" Trilogy (I think it was published as Realms of Arkania in english) just had a geekier attitude. In the past you also had to read manuals for games and so on. Today it's expected that you can start the game right away. Get into some action without much to think about.
    But besides of that tendency we should not forget that strategy and RPG are terms which are not bound purely to a combat system.
    Starcraft for example is a Tactic Game which does not only require trained micros, fast reactions but also huge knowledge and tactics.
    Examples for RPGs could be games like Ultima Underworld and even Mass Effect 2. Yes, ME2 is very action loaded, and even if they moved away even more from the skill system and items they had in ME1, it was a great game, even a great roleplaying game.
    So I would not say, that they just throw a bone to us in the most cases, though it might be the case in some. The Shooter in the Shadowrun universe comes to my mind. Or the Ultima Browsergame, the "Das Schwarze Auge" Hack and Slay Game which is currently developed. But these games are more throwing a bone called license than one called genre.

    I think Fallout isn't even the best example for this change of times. X-Com or especially Jagged Alliance have an even deeper problem. In case of Jagged Alliance they HAVE to appeal to the Fanbase they already had 5-15 years ago. Besides of the own kind of humor and the characters Jagged Alliance does not have a big component you could take over. In Fallout you have a unique setting, and RPG elements you can take from the old games into a present game. In JA you don't have much of that. The only companies currently doing that kind of games are some 3rd class companies in russia who then release 3rd class games. It will be quite interesting to see if bitcomposer can create a game of a genre which almost died out. Actually it's risky to put much money into it. The market says that nobody plays it anymore. But that's of course because everyone looks at the market and thinks like that, quite the opposite of a snowball effect. The only possibility to breach that is to be brave and take high risks with pumping money into it.
    And thats another problem in this developement. It's not necessarily because the "creators are more out for the money than anything else". While you could create a AAA Game in the past with a very small team, nowadays you need huge teams to make a game for todays standards. A huge teams requires a huge bunch of money, therefore an investor. And Investors don't like risks.
    Besides of that, as you already mentioned Sid Meier: Civ was always a turn based game and almost the only one which kept being successful through decades, so obviously he did something right. Additionaly I find it especially interesting that while he is also developing a mass market facebook civ app, Civ 5 is also to be released quite soon and with this game he is even going into the direction of games like panzer general and similar. I mean Hex fields? What was the last game in which you saw that? I remember Battle Isle. I love these changes and for me personally Civ5 could become my game of the year.

    Well, this all does not have much to do with VATS anymore, but I assume it's ok to glance at other topics if the discussion about the main topic is already dropping anyways.
  19. eternaut

    eternaut First time out of the vault

    Feb 3, 2009
    Woo, it's me or he sounded exactly like Andy in "The 40 year-old virgin"? Not implying anything about his sexual expertise (or lack thereof), just his voice and facial expression.
    Or maybe i saw it so many times i became obsessed by it :P
  20. TheWesDude

    TheWesDude Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Feb 25, 2005
    as soon as i saw this:

    i stopped reading. this is exactly the point i have been saying for years is a core requirement for RPGs. there is no point in further reading for me because i know its going to be parroting opinions i have already :)