What's the Future of Fallout?

Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by Brivoo, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. Brivoo

    Brivoo Powered by Radiant AI

    Jan 20, 2016
    And RPGs/video games in general.

    Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one.

    Also, as a side note, When I refer to "the modern games" I mostly refer to Fallout 3 (despite it being plural, I know) and any obvious points you see me make are purely for the sake of rhetoric and are likely not worth pointing out.

    I officially joined this website some five months or so ago, but I've been lurking a lot longer than that (years, as it were). During that period, I was mostly on the fence about NMA, specifically on the topic of the new Fallouts; whilst I certainly agreed that the writing had been dumbed down to a level that almost seemed like a joke, I found the way posters treated fans of the new games somewhat caustic, cantankerous and other synonyms of hostile. It seemed to me that the way people were driven away simply for disagreeing and the vehemence with which users defended their views bordered on maniacal and I wondered why.

    I'm not a huge fan of Bethesda's titles; I don't think they could make a proper RPG to save their lives. However, I still sympathized with the newer audiences flooding in because my first introduction to the franchise was Tactics, which is less than stellar; I thought that it being part of their identity drove them to defend it zealously just as you (and now I) here at NMA defend 1 and 2. But as I browsed places like /r/Fallout3, /r/Fallout4 and sugarbombed, that's not the impression I was getting. It seemed to me that these people genuinely thought that the newer games were well written and offered a wide array of choices for every quest, even though basically everyone here would claim the opposite.

    I honestly only bought the first two as a token effort to catch up with the lore of Tactics, since in my eyes it was basically more of the same. I don't think I need to tell you that they are spectacular; I enjoyed every second of them and Fallout 1, in particular, will always hold the No. 1 spot in my own top five. I tried to share this experience with my friends, but none of them were interested; they all grew up with Oblivion and Fallout 3 and were very put off by the graphics and gameplay. "Why", I thought to myself, "Would they be concerned with the combat and visuals when they themselves claimed that the best part of an RPG is the story?"

    "Well," I concluded, "It's because that's what they grew up with." A lot of my friends had PlayStations and the like growing up, but I didn't catch up and buy a console until I was in my teens; as such, we had very different views on what constituted a game in most regards.

    Incidentally, the fact that I was the only person in my circle even today who thinks Bethesda games are incredibly dull is the main reason why I joined the website; circlejerk or not, at least I can find some like-minded people here.

    But back to the point; I realized that Obsidian and Fallout 3 are what are considered the standard for RPGs nowadays. It's not the set of tropes and mechanics we became accustomed to, it was a whole new system. The classic, isometric RPGs may still exist today, but they are no longer center-stage; to many, they are the offshoot of things like Skyrim and the Witcher 3.

    "Surely, I'm not the only one who's realized this on NMA," I continued with my internal monologue, "It's just statistics."

    And it's true; if I hadn't added the line above, I'm sure many would have pointed out, in kinder words than mine, that I just stated the obvious while using way more paragraphs than any intelligent man ought to. So why do we defend Fallout 1 and 2 and sometimes Tactics? Because of the writing?

    Here's the clicker, though; I don't think the writing in the classics is a valid selling point.

    This is where this already overly lengthy post ventures into the territory of gaming at large. I'm certain you'll agree when I say that video games are at the very least a valid form of entertainment; but why aren't they more readily accepted as an art?

    Violence certainly isn't it; Quentin Tarantino made it abundantly clear that movies can have blood pouring down in buckets and still be considered an art. Is it the flimsy plots? I've read my fair share of Mills & Boon and I can tell you that they sell like hot-cakes. Hell, even comics are arguably an art, so why not video games?

    It's because all of the examples I've listed were genres.

    While all entertainment industries have preferred genres and conventions, the AAA industry is the only one to limit itself so thoroughly. No matter how great the writing or how incredible the exploration, combat is always a central, if not the only mechanic in the game. Publishers have found a comfortable, broad-market appeal originating from the most primal of power fantasies and their unwillingness to budge is reducing the market to a puerile landscape of shooting and stabbing in various forms, of which Fallout is part of.

    Make no mistake, it isn't just them. Even among indie games one would be hard-pressed to find one that doesn't contain combat in any form; even Undertale, which was fantastic in encouraging you to take the pacifist path, had a central combat mechanic (and arguably rewarded you for it).

    Combat isn't an intrinsically bad thing, but when it becomes nigh-universal in a medium, it betrays a juvenile streak which infects everything else; as great as the dialogue in whichever Fallout you want to pick is or the story of Spec Ops: The Line, it still bears the cross of its target audience and has a stick-it-to-your-teacher kind of humour and writing, no matter how clever.

    It's no Othello, is what I'm trying to say.

    So here's the point: until games learn to branch into properly differentiated genres, they'll be outgrown and forgotten. They'll remain a childish thing because that's who they're aimed at; whimsy and shooting and roleplaying are all well and good, but everyone gets tired of childish violence eventually.

    So can we really blame new fans for never having played the old games if it was before their time? It's not as if they don't know of War and Peace or other great classics of literature or have never heard of Casablanca but still try to argue for the sequel Casablanca 2: Casablanca Harder as a masterpiece in its own right; they're enjoying an experience tailored to their demographic that they will eventually outgrow and the constant, mutating nature of culture means that one day they may very well be the ones arguing that Fallout 12 has strayed from the path, perverting the good name of the games they used to enjoy.

    It's hard to imagine an industry where games like the Sherlock Holmes series are their own entire genre and shooters are getting a significantly smaller piece of the cake, but I don't think it's impossible or even unlikely to happen. Games like Fallout, though recognized as classic even today, will be relics of a bygone era; a time where video games were mostly just adolescent fantasies.

    So what's the point of NMA? Why did I even join if I think it's protecting the integrity of a poorly-written fiction?

    Well, for the same reason I'm making this post. I think we can understand the direction fiction is taking in this medium and we can discuss it appropriately; whether the Fallout franchise is merely a catalyst for this discussion or a microcosmos representing an evolution in virtual entertainment is yet to be seen.

    TL;DR (or 'Getting to the Goddamn Point'): The original Fallouts are a part of a different generation of gaming with different rules; comparing them to the new ones is not only difficult but pointless as the new fans won't even have the same frame of reference as we do and the games possess a different focus, just as it will be pointless for them to compare Fallout 3 and 4 to Fallout 12 or whatever.

    As a side note, I still think the writing in Fallout 4 sucks, but I don't want this to turn into a discussion about it in particular.
  2. Black Angel

    Black Angel Grand Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus

    Mar 21, 2016
    I think I can kind of get the gist of what you're saying. Yeah, there were times when NMA's really sounded outright hostile, even though they didn't really mean it (I think). That's what I meant when I first stated that NMA is the tame version of RPG Codex; I'm not sure if I have the right to say this, but the difference between NMA and the Codex is that in the Codex, hostility is the norm and everybody get used to it, to the point where it's okay for some of the members there to get 'labeled'/'tagged' with words such as 'Bethestard', 'Shitposter', 'Possibly Retarded', etc tec. But if you are weak-willed, chance are you won't be in the Codex and you won't be talking about it at all. But NMA? NMA don't have that kind of 'norm', and for quite a long time it's been kind of stagnant and just same old-same old, as the new Bethesda's fans come here making a thread like, "Why the hate for Fallout 4?", and then genuinely new members who wanted to legitimately participate in this site's daily discussion, but in their ignorance made some thread like, "I'm disappointed with Bethesda." and the regular members can't help but reply. That's why the atmosphere is different, and why NMA's felt more 'hostile' when compared to the Codex.

    My first Fallout was Fallout 3, and despite me having played the originals and New Vegas through and through, I still kept a feeling of 'nostalgia' about Fallout 3. From there, I kind of understand why the majority considered the likes of Fallout 3 as 'RPG'. They were spoiled, but that's not it, they were also 'afraid' of things that's old and, to them, 'obscure'. I began Fallout 3 in 2015, and I once asked myself, if Fallout really is a famous franchise, why is it only now I actually heard about it? That time I thought Fallout 1 and 2 were obscure games, they were so old (released like 3 years after my year of birth) and 'looks outdated', with some 'complex' mechanic that I thought would really take time to understand and get used to. After I finished Fallout 3, I thought it was: a good game, a good RPG, and a good post-apocalyptic game. When I first boot up New Vegas, I was 'turned off' by its thick cowboy, wild-west, desert feel (which mostly found in Goodsprings), and also because it was so 'different' from what I got in Fallout 3. I have to put it down for a while, and when, like 2-3 months before release of Fallout 4, I find out that most people shit on Fallout 3 and stated that New Vegas is the better game, I was confused, and I was angry. But here's the difference between and average Bethesda's fans; I retried New Vegas and this time with more open mind. When I get past Goodspring and arrive on Primm, I begin to understand why it was the better game, and as I carry on that playthrough I was so staggered by the amount of content that the vanilla (minus DLCs) New Vegas had. Every time I thought I'm close to the ending, I keep discovering quests and content. Even then, I also hold a view that New Vegas's map was 'boring' and 'empty'; until I played the originals, and realized that the bulk of content and point of interests in proper Fallout games was supposed to be the settlements/marked places/ where civilization began to rise.
    Why did I tell you all that? Because I know how most people/Bethesda fans feel about Fallout 3. The difference between them and me is that I'm more open-minded, willing to play New Vegas with as little mindset I had with Fallout 3 as possible to see New Vegas for what it is, and then muster up the courage to play the classics without feeling 'afraid' and without the mindset that they were 'outdated'. Can most of the Bethesda's average and newer fans do that? Of course. But NMA ought to help them do that. I know it's hard to just not shit on Bethesda on every chance we get, but honestly even I am tired of doing that. It's high times discussed Fallout in better tones, as to not scare off Bethesda's newer fans from trying the classics and/or even made them 'angry' to the point of deciding that the classics games are 'bad' just because of the fans. Of course, good games ain't for everyone, so at the very least newer fans should do some research and understand the lore of the Fallout universe (and also so they understand why Bethesda could never make a good Fallout game that respect its own lore).

    As for bits of why we defended the classics, I both agree and disagree with you. The classics were made exactly with turn-based gameplay system in mind, but the writings were what made it memorable. Let's put it this way: I didn't exactly come back to Fallout 1 and 2 for the writings, but for the turn-based gameplay that made use of the SPECIAL and skills system, and the top-down isometric perspective, all of those to facilitate the game's capability of allowing me to roleplay. But when I'm NOT playing Fallout 1 and 2, I remembered them for their writing. Get it? I'm not sure about you and the others, but that's how I feel. We came here to NMA to 'discuss' Fallout, but what exactly we discuss? My guess is the narrative and the lore, though we do discuss gameplay and levels once in a while, but the narrative, writing, and lore? Those are the most discussed.

    The topic about video games in general and genres, I'm know I can't type (most of) my two cents here, so I'll let Jim Sterling do the job for that

    Overall, I agree with you. It's baffling that publisher aren't people who play games at all, that they thought they know what to say about what gamers want. And then there are those who can't get past their comfort zones and aren't willing to take risks. Most of these were also discussed widely and frequently in the Codex, and I'm not sure where to start so there's that.

    It's odd that 'combat' is now synonymous with 'gameplay'. You know what I mean, especially if you've read me arguing in some other thread how 'skills checks' are part of gameplay yet the other guy insisted that skills checks are only part of story (well, the guy did specified 'skills checks in dialogue', but it's like he forgot other skills checks like repairing items, autopsy, medicinal procedure, etc etc).
    Also, just minor-nitpicky disagreement in my part, but I think Undertale didn't reward you for combat; at all. You can choose to completely opt out of encounters, or you can use Items and Act so you can Spare the monster. That's not 'rewarding' you for combat, so I guess you mean "reward you to do the 'right' thing in encounters". It wasn't right to call it 'central combat mechanic', but rather 'encounter design'. But hey, that's just me.

    Lastly, this
    is where I have to fully, humbly, and respectfully disagree with you. To me, good games are timeless. These days we have mods and stuff to easily brings those old games to the newer generation, so there's no excuse. I kind of get what you meant with 'different rules', but that's not exactly it. We saw what Tim Cain and the team did with Fallout 1, it was all about willingness to take risks with passion, to genuinely bring something new to the table. Back in the day, turn-based gameplay aren't really popular (from what I know), and real-time gameplay (Diablo) and also first person perspective (Doom, Quake) were already 'booming', so making turn-based gameplay, in top-down isometric perspective nonetheless, was so risky, Tim Cain and the team had to debate with the publisher at the time.
    For newer fans to deem the originals as 'outdated' without actually trying them or even at least do research on them is ignorance. However, while it's not necessary, NMA still got the power to help these newer fans to get into them. Like I said, it's high times we start discussing Fallout franchise with better tones, and also start expanding our topics of discussion.

    This is also why I'm really looking forward to NMA's interview with Chris Avellone and also the progress for NMA's Fallout PnP.

    (also, that typo of typing 'Obsidian' instead of 'Oblivion' tho).