Fallout 3 EP5: Glorious Chaos!

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 14, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 290 comments

Link (YouTube)

Sweet mother of Mutants, I forgot how unabashedly horrible the Three Dog dialog is. There’s this awful mix where the game is putting motivations and characterizations into your own dialog, the NPC makes all kinds of assumptions that you can’t challenge, and the NPC talks a great deal without saying much. The player’s attempts to direct the conversation are a futile struggle against the iron will of the author.

The Tasteful Understated Nerdrage guy did a video on the Elder Scrolls series and Bethesda Software, and he talked about how Bethesda is good at worldbuilding. (Alas that the guy stopped making stuff. He was doing really good work.) Giving Fallout to Bethesda is like giving DOOM to Peter Molyneux. It requires almost the inverse of the given skillset, preventing them from doing the things they’re good at and demanding a lot of they types of things they’re bad at.

This project didn’t require much in the way of worldbuilding. The Fallout world was already built. They just needed to match the tone of the original games, which were pitch-black comedy. Something like Brazil, Six-String Samurai, or Dr. Strangelove. A lot of the feel of the game came not from the “50’s vibe” but from the way the game subverted the “Happy Days vibe” by mixing it with a Mad Max world of savage desolation. Bethesda doesn’t do subversion, they do scope. They make big, detailed worlds and stories that span centuries. Bethesda took the 50’s vibe and just turned it into an design aesthetic, played straight.

When Bethesda makes a new Elder Scrolls game, they roll the calendar forward a couple of centuries to find an open spot in the lore where they’ll have room to work. They tried that here and the setting fell apart. Yes, their skill at environmental storytelling served the game well and they crafted many interesting spaces, but none of it felt like Fallout.

Looking back, it’s obvious to me that Bethesda is just wrong for this material. On the other hand, this sort of thing happens all the time in movies. The people at the top almost never understand the business with enough granularity to understand how to match designers up with material that’s suited for them. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a talented filmmaker. Joss Whedon is a talented writer. Alien is a franchise with two or three strong films behind it, depending on who you ask. And yet when you combined these three things we wound up with Alien Resurrection, which was a bad Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie, a bad Joss Whedon movie, and a bad Alien movie. It might have been a decent popcorn-munching movie otherwise (depending on personal taste) but it didn’t deliver on the promise of what went into it.


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290 thoughts on “Fallout 3 EP5: Glorious Chaos!

  1. IFS says:

    Video is private.

    Edit: and now its not.

    Also in hopes of making constructive commentary its interesting how much people still like Three Dog in spite of his terrible dialogue, apparently a teaser hinted that he would be in Fallout 4 and people were rejoicing over this.

    1. rayen says:

      how would that work? we grenaded his pants.

      1. Thomas says:

        Which is exactly what the Escapist comment thread said, multiple times =D I was so proud

      2. Dasick says:

        meh. Sheogorath in Skyrim is an imperial looking dude, even though I distinctly remember playing an Argonian lady through Shivering Isles

        1. Simon Buchan says:

          Obviously, someone put a grenade in your pants some time in the last 200 years.

        2. Ysen says:

          Given who we’re talking about here, failure to maintain consistency isn’t exactly a gaping plot hole.

        3. X2-Eliah says:

          Meh. The lore does explain it, but it is probably a waste of time to explain it in full detail. Extra short version – the role overtakes the actor.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well three dog is poor mans mr new vegas,and as we know poor are the 99%.The logic is flawless.

    3. We can only hope that he’s not the game’s DJ, but just a cameo to tie into the previous game.

      On the up side, I bet he’s wearing pants and I’m pretty sure there’ll be a spare grenade somewhere.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I am going to be a dissenter and say that I liked Three Dog.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          To the point where I think he was the only reason I had the radio on, seeing as I didn’t like Mr New Vegas much at all and played the game without the radio pretty much all the way through.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I felt the same way. He was much more entertaining the Mr. New Vegas.

            Which is a shame because I love Frank Sinatra.

            1. Keeshhound says:

              Three Dog might have been more entertaining, but at least I never had to worry that Mr. New Vegas was spying on me 24/7.

              I spent most of Fallout 3 convinced that that squirrely little DJ was hiding behind every rock, lamppost and wrecked car I came across. Always watching…

              1. Jakale says:

                I always figured he had people calling in or dropping by with the latest on my most recent quest result, probably the Brotherhood guys, now that I think of it, since they actually do try to keep tabs on things. Made me feel pretty bad when I helped the ghouls get into Tenpenny Tower and then got blamed for what they did post-quest. I hadn’t even gone back since finishing that quest.

          2. anaphysik says:

            I’m playing New Vegas right now & I don’t like MR. New Vegas. His voice simply grates on me & is both hard to hear AND distracting.

            I listen to 24/7 Mojave Music Radio instead :]

            Srs suggestion: Bastion narrator should be a Fallout DJ. But only in one of the good games.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              That’s kinda funny since he’s voiced by Mr. Las Vagas himself, Frank Sinatra, and is one of America’s most legendary voices.

              1. BeardedDork says:

                That seems unlikely Frank Sinatra died in May of 1998 and the Original Fallout came out November of 1997 only five months earlier.

              2. anaphysik says:

                Ah, so that’s the problem. He’s way too mainstream. #HIPSTERBURN

                But yeah, don’t like his radio voice. There are plenty of famous singers/broadcasters/people-what-make-sounds-with-their-mouths whose voices nonetheless grate on me.

              3. modus0 says:

                No, he’s voiced by Wayne Newton, Ol’ Blue Eyes has been dead for over a decade.

                1. newdarkcloud says:

                  Corrected it in Lunatic’s comment. Forgive me for being an idiot. I can’t justify that as I don’t even drink! :[

              4. LunaticFringe says:

                Not sure if you’re kidding or not newdarkcloud, but Frank Sinatra is kind of dead. Wayne Newton, famously known as Mr. Las Vegas, plays Mr. New Vegas.

                EDIT: Ninja’d. Guess I’ll add that I was massively disappointed there was no Louis Prima in the New Vegas soundtrack.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  “Not sure if you're kidding or not newdarkcloud”

                  I read this as ‘Not sure which the truth is: [you're kidding] OR [you’re not newdarkcloud].’

                  Because for newdarkcloud not to kid, he would have to have been replaced by body snatchers. Which /iiiiis/ consistent with his recent twitter behaviour… hmmmmm…

                2. newdarkcloud says:

                  You’re right. I just had a lapse and mixed up names like I always do, FrunaticLinge.

                  Silly me.

                  1. LunaticFringe says:

                    I’m onto you, Pod Person.

            2. lurkey says:

              I didn’t listen to anything, since I liked the ambient soundtrack well enough, unlike F3’s. But in “Old World Blues” Mojave Music Radio is on by default everywhere, and after a few playthroughs Sleepy Town Blues is forever ingrained in my brain as “Music you listen when killing nightstalkers in derelict high school building”.

              1. LunaticFringe says:

                I entered Nipton while “Big Iron on His Hip” was playing during my first playthrough. There was no way I was leaving that town without shooting someone.

        2. X2-Eliah says:

          Same. Three Dog was pretty awesome.

          Then again, I liked Dj Atomika in burnout:paradise, so my opinion is suspect.

    4. SKD says:

      I find his radio show entertaining while wandering the Capital Wasteland. Talking to him on the other hand….

      1. lurkey says:

        Exactly. I loved how he talked about my character after she nuked Brotherhood HQ — “Devil walks the Wasteland” in this quiet, ominous voice. Of course, I killed him anyway, since I was on a mission to clean gene pool a bit by eliminating people manipulating/being jerks for no reason to a very heavily armed, very dangerous looking person, but I didn’t hate him.

        1. Actually, Three Dog would have been markedly improved if his personality had been totally different from his on-air persona. If he’d been a nerdy-looking guy or some kid with a deep voice running the station as part of some plan by the BoS (maybe to draw out the Chinese ghouls holed up near the Pentagon?), that would have made him more complex.

          Similarly, if he’d been slightly nuts, having grown up in the ruins listening to the archived records and tapes in an old radio station that the BoS has restored and lets him run (for morale, keeping the locals friendly, cover for secret transmissions, whatever) and not quite understanding the news he was reading, that would have been kind of nicely dark.

          1. Dasick says:

            So, what you’re trying to say is that Three Dog’s personality needed some character/situational depth to balance it out?

            1. Like a lot of other things in F3, he needed a better reason for being there. I’m still not sure what the BoS was doing protecting him, really. Giving him just a little more to make his presence worthwhile (other than to be a source of ego-stroking and music) would have been welcome.

      2. I could hear what they were going for: Wasteland Wolfman Jack. The problem was his poorly-written quest and the limited interactions you could have with him. I never killed him, mind you, but I found it hilarious when Josh did. Too bad he didn’t tune into GNR for the substitute DJ to admonish him for his evil acts. :)

        As for “how does he know X, Y, Z when it just happened?” That’s easy. This world has the same network of information dispersal that Oblivion uses when you steal something.

        That said, it occurs to me that if they’d had something resembling factions in this game, it would have been cool to take information (propaganda?) to Three Dog that he’d put on the air and tip the balance in a given outcome. But that would’ve been too much like fun, so…

    5. Even says:

      I wouldn’t mind if they just toned him down or just plain rewrote him to be more reasonable. The energetic style and the voice worked otherwise for me.

      1. Dasick says:

        The underlining theme of Fallout games is actually ‘hope’. The world was nuked to high hell, and all the joking and death aside, there is a brighter future – people are rebuilding, civilization is being re-established, and if you consider NV to be cannon, there’s electricity, large scale agriculture and trade, and government structures.

        Three Dog’s energy isn’t entirely out of place.

        1. WJS says:

          It sure is in Fallout 3, where precisely none of what you just mentioned is present.

  2. Paul Spooner says:

    Not “stopped making stuff” permanently so much as got busy with RL. Here’s a good interview (assuming it’s genuine): http://www.andykaiser.com/2013/what-happened-to-mrbtongue-a-tasteful-understated-nerdrage-interview/

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      How dares he have real life?!Entertainers arent allowed to do that!They must dance for our amusement FOREVA!!

        1. aldowyn says:

          Also known as “part of the reason I would never ever partner with Machinima”

          Of course, the fact that their stuff just isn’t the kind of thing I’d do helps make that decision easy.

          1. I feel sorriest for the “Freeman’s Mind” guy. :(

        2. MikhailBorg says:

          Oh, so that’s what happened to Ross “Freeman’s Mind” Scott.

          I can’t do much about this, but what I can do is never support Machinima.com again for this.

        3. Artur CalDazar says:

          After reading that the TUN guy isn’t gone for good I was really happy, and now I’m really sad.

  3. MrGuy says:

    So, something about this doesn’t ring true to me. I’d agree the game isn’t well written.

    I question a bit the “it was played straight without the zaniness” is the thing that made it “not Fallout.” Frankly, this has been missing since Fallout 2, which wasn’t nearly as “Mad Max” as the original. And New Vegas (a game you describe as 100 times better somewhere) wasn’t that different from Fallout 3 in terms of “subverting” the 50’s aesthetic or playing for black comedy (it did neither).

    The thing that I didn’t love about Fallout 3 was the characters. Three Dog is a caricature. The BOS and especially Sarah Lyons are suddenly 2-dimensional do-gooders, and are not better for the change. There’s no strong antagonist in the game – the Enclave parachutes in to play the bad guy role in Act III with little-to-no prior involvement. It’s just not a coherent story with compelling characters.

    Oh, and plus, it completely subverted core mechanics that made your character building and specialization skills actually matter, which killed the game as a challenge (as well as the replay value).

    Basically, I don’t buy this is the main problem.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I think part of the problem is more that so much of what happens in Fallout 3 violates or rewrites established lore in the Fallout universe.

      Like the GECK being a terraforming module
      Or the BoS suddenly becoming literal Paladins of justice.

      And things that are congruous with old lore feel out of place without a proper explanation like how caps are currency in the East for no reason.

      1. Khizan says:

        The irritating thing about the BoS is I can fix it all in one easy change.

        The Brotherhood of Steel and the Brotherhood Outcasts switch names. That’s it. Now the Outcasts are a renegade faction that split off from the Brotherhood of Steel.

        The story is still stupid, but now the BoS lore remains intact.

        1. Artur CalDazar says:

          Actually I don’t think they need to switch names. Lyons Brotherhood while not denounced by the fellows back west is no longer supported or supplied. Lyons faction was the larger, due to his men being loyal to him more than the codex so it wouldn’t make sense for them to be the outcasts.

          They are not the brotherhood we expect, and questions of why lyons men were more supportive of him than the codex are not to my knowledge answered, but it still all fits within existing lore, more or less.

      2. Grudgeal says:

        Multiple people have probably already said this in multiple forms, but to me, FO3 reads like a fanfic of the Fallout universe. It’s made by someone who briefly played the originals, decided to make his own story, and then simply slapped on the elements of the original work to fill the roles of the ‘world’, the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’.

        Fallout: New Vegas feels more like a proper ‘sequel’. In fact, I got annoyed when the final DLC decided to acknowledge FO3 even existed. FO3 sure doesn’t acknowledge the first two Fallout Games (three if you count Fallout Tactics, and I have to say I partially do).

        1. Keeshhound says:

          Acknowledged, yes, but in a rather subversive way. Fallout 3 tried to paint the entirety of the Enclave as though every member was a post-apocalyptic Hitler. New Vegas and Lonesome Road instead portray them as being a group of people trying to help the world, but whose leaders were terrible, racist people who used their subordinate’s loyalty and patriotism to accomplish their own goals at the expense of the wasteland populace.

        2. MrGuy says:

          FO3 sure doesn't acknowledge the first two Fallout Games (three if you count Fallout Tactics, and I have to say I partially do).

          Buh? What FO3 did YOU play?

          Harold, for one. The existence of the BoS and the Enclave. More specifically, the history of the early BoS on Elder Lyons’ terminal. The acknowledgement of President Richardson by the Enclave. Occasional character references to locations form FO1 and FO2 (especially the NCR). The Nuka-Cola Plant. The running joke about the T-51b power armor (and the subsequent quest to obtain it). Dogmeat.

          I’m not saying that FO3 didn’t mess with the canon to a significant degree, but to imply they didn’t acknowledge the predecessors is a stretch.

          1. krellen says:

            Fallout 3 totally acknowledged Fallout, in the same way a skindancer totally acknowledges werewolves.

            It’s like Bethesda snuck into Black Isle’s closet, stole all the clothes, then started parading around the country dressed up as Black Isle, trying (desperately) to convince everyone it was, in fact, Black Isle.

            1. Not so much “snuck into” as “bought at a yard sale.”

              As for the writing, I played a little F3 again recently (as well as F1 and F2) and the sad thing with Bethesda is I can see what someone was trying to do with parts of the game. For example, Operation Anchorage is wildly reviled as being unfair to melee characters, having no real impact on the storyline, and being a big old contrivance to get you into the Matrix.

              I don’t think that’s the whole story. For one, someone was clever enough to have the Outcasts make reference to a previous subject, and in a room behind a locked door, you can find an armless “Gary” clone (from one of the best vaults ever, 108). Someone was tying things together in a darkly humorous way, there. There are characters in the VR that are also referenced in Mothership Zeta thanks to alien abduction and stasis, but you have to slog through the rest of the DLC to get that intriguing bit of trivia. I think OA started out as a way to let you see some of the lore in the game, but it fell flat and didn’t awe or intrigue like it should have, thanks to buggy weapons, bland enemies, and no real way to “role play” the DLC apart from trying to use skills to break the VR.

              But much like the Gary cameo, the game seems to be at its best when it just lets you discover things. Even the first Fallout was best when you were exploring somewhere new and weird/scary.

  4. Thomas says:

    I was excited about this episode coming up and it didn’t disappoint, except I thought I had memories of Josh blowing himself up :(

    1. anaphysik says:

      Y’know, Josh managing to *not* blow himself up is actually more entertaining, since it subverts my SW expectations ;D

  5. Deadpool says:

    The real shame? Fallout 3 was considerably more popular than New Vegas. I’m not sure Obsidian is getting tapped for another Fallout any time soon, and that’s a damn shame…

    Also, Bethesda forced a handful of its design philosophies onto New Vegas, which probably didn’t help…

    1. krellen says:

      The best figures I can find actually show that New Vegas outsold Fallout 3 by about 5%.

      1. Dasick says:

        Too bad about the fact that they got only 84 on metacritic, and missed that publisher bonus they would have gotten for an 85.

    2. zob says:

      There is the old school crowd who played the original games and suckered into buying this mess and then there is this relatively younger demographic who heard the “awesomeness” of the Fallout(yes I am exaggerating) yet never experienced it first hand, who jumped to the opportunity that is this hybrid game.

      New Vegas was mechanically more of the same. But they were aware of the criticisms they received over the quality of the storyline. Knowing they wouldn’t be able to attract nostalgia money this time, they included Obsidian(Chris Avellone) to keep the old guard.

      I’d say success of the game was mostly a success of marketing. Without “Fallout” title It’d merely be an above average Oblivion with guns game.

      1. Dasick says:

        Well, the open world, do what you want, shoot anyone in the face, blow up Megaton levels of freedom and scope are kinda impressive, especially if you’ve never encountered that before. Oblivion was my first Elder Scrolls game, and I was completely mind-blown by it. I still have fond memories of it, despite it being a tremendously bad game.

        1. aldowyn says:

          I wouldn’t call Oblivion BAD. Just… some rather important pieces are rather broken, although quite easily fixed. Fix them and it’s pretty good, at least I think so.

          1. Dasick says:

            You can mod anything into a good game :P

            That’s what I used to think at least, but the more I think of it, the more it seems to me that Oblivion is flawed at a fundamental level.

            There are a lot of things, but I guess the best way for me to describe it is just to point at Mount and Blade and say “something in a similar train of thought”

            1. aldowyn says:

              If you can make it significantly better by just not sleeping I think it’s not THAT fundamental :P

              And it’s not that easy to mod everything. The ease of modding their engines is a big reason Bethesda games have so much staying power.

              1. Dasick says:

                Yeah, that’s something I can really appreciate. Of all the AAA companies, Bethesda is one of the few that are totally cool with the concept of players owning their copy. “Yeah, we build this totally cool and detail town with all these awesome characters we poured our hearts and money into, but you know what? It’s your game, play it your way, and blow it to high hell if you want to.”

                Abstaining from sleeping is really a band-aid solution, since it’s a feature that the game was designed with in mind. It’s also a feature, that if properly balanced, can add something to the game, as Morrowwind demonstrated.

                Oscuro’s Overhaul and Nehrim are the two mods that attempt of fix those problems, but they can only treat the symptoms. It’s incredibly hard to rework a system that isn’t working properly, as opposed to just cutting it out or balancing it. A lot of systems in Oblivion have enormous potential, but they need to be reworked (ie, same direction, a different fundamental path), it’s not a matter of balancing or cutting things out.

                If you want, I can go into detail as to what systems aren’t working and how they can be fixed, and how that is impossible with the construction set.

                1. aldowyn says:

                  I think I’d need more context from Morrowind, which I haven’t actually played. :/

                  1. Dasick says:

                    It’s still broken in Morrowwind, but since it has almost entirely hand-placed loot and monsters, you don’t really notice that your build is un-optimal. You can just go back, grind some more and return at higher level (this is also a major fundamental problem, that grinding exists, and has to exist to some extent).

                    For me at least, TES games are fundamentally flawed for the following reason: they are not structured around a single defining/unifying core/idea, rather it has a whole bunch of systems that are competing for attention and have opposite needs.

                    There are challenges because it gives the context and motivation to play around with the systems, but there’s also grinding because the story needs to be completable. There’s character building as a main mechanic, which requires long-term planning and a strategical approach, but there’s also the action combat and mini games which puts *player* skills and attributes above the skills of character as the deciding factor. There’s random monsters and loot to keep things varied, but there’s level scaling so that the exploration aspect doesn’t suffer. There’s authored, high quality content but there’s also random and generic stuff to fill the space. There’s death because it makes sense thematically, but there is saving+loading because the game would be tedious without it. etc etc There is no focus, and the different goals compete for attention and tear each other apart.

      2. I'd say success of the game was mostly a success of marketing. Without “Fallout” title It'd merely be an above average Oblivion with guns game.

        I’d disagree strongly with that. New Vegas had:

        – Factions.
        – Disguises.
        – The Companion Wheel (and better companions).
        – Multiple endings to the main quest that were actually different (as opposed to F3’s “the Purifier was turned on”).
        – Killable NPCs
        – A burgeoning ecosystem with agriculture.
        – A collection quest with a great narrative payoff.
        – A more coherent plot with better motivation for the players involved.

        There are more, but those are the ones just off the top of my head. Calling NV just “Oblivion with guns” is overly simplistic and dismissive, in my opinion.

    3. Dasick says:

      Also, looking at Skyrim, Bethesda failed to learn anything from Obsidian in terms of pure game design. Not that Obsidian’s is perfect or even good by my unreasonably high standards, but they did have a focus on multiple distinct playthroughs and balanced options. I was especially impressed by the dedication of one J Swayer, of the JTSawyer mod (which is like an unofficial, official mod that attempts to get close to how the game was supposed to play).

      1. aldowyn says:

        Not that Skyrim ISN’T better than Oblivion, at least in the leveling mechanics. Not all the trees are balanced, but overall I think Skyrim is better than Oblivion, if still far from perfect. I’ve heard that mages got screwed in Skyrim? I know from personal experience that sneaky types and fighter types are both quite viable, and have their own strengths and weaknesses.

        1. I played a mage straight through the first time with little difficulty. I didn’t even use the trick of summon-spamming the enemy until I was in the higher levels and didn’t want to up my other skills.

          The thing that bugged me about Skyrim (and other “classless” RPGs) is that they don’t withhold content when it would make sense to do so. If you picked a fighter or a thief build, you shouldn’t be able to become the Archmage. Similarly, if you’re a magic-user, you shouldn’t be able to become a part of the Thieves Guild’s upper echelons.

          I know they worry that if I hit a wall on some storyline that I’ll gripe and ragequit, but instead I’d love the chance to make a different character and play through it again.

          1. aldowyn says:

            sure, but you can always only do quest lines if it makes sense for your character. Like I had a sneaky character that only did Thieves’ guild and dark brotherhood. They just let you have freedom…

            It’d be nice if they at least ENCOURAGED that playstyle instead of actively discouraging it like the mana-draining mages’ guild missions…

            1. Dasick says:

              Freedom is nice, but it’s hard to appreciate when there are no consequences for your freedom.

          2. newdarkcloud says:

            This bugged me about Skyrim. How could an asshole wearing Heavy Armor and using Greatswords ever qualify for the Thieves’ Guild!?

            1. SharpeRifle says:

              Ah….I see your problem.

              You’ve mistransalated. You see to the untrained eye that looks like Thieves’ Guild in english.

              But thats actually Old Norse for “Skyrim Mafia”

              Thus men and woman with big weapons and armor are quite welcome to join their membership.

              I kid of course but lets face it….in Skyrim they are much less of a group of thieves and more of a group of organized criminals. This is especially disconcerting after Oblivion where you really did seem to have and actual organization devoted to thievery.
              And yet the Skyrim one seems to be more “in” with Nocturnal than the Oblivion one…go figure.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Trust me when I say that you do not want me to get started on that. I vastly prefer the writing of Oblivion’s TG quest than that trash that fans (for some reason) adored as one of the best quest lines (presumably because it is the longest).

                1. Adam says:

                  It’s definitely the most interesting thematically, even if the execution leaves something to be desired. While an entire organization devoted to catburglary is a fantasy staple, an organization that correlates to a fantastical mafia family is much more plausible. There’s really only one story you can tell about a character that joins a “Thieves’ Guild” and works their way to the top; a character that joins the mafia and works their way to the top can play out in all manner of different ways. The fact that the story they told with that framework is laughably stupid in places doesn’t diminish the inherent coolness of being in the fantasy mafia. And the fact that you can endlessly steal from the people of Skyrim doesn’t hurt, either.

                  1. Klay F. says:

                    The only problem is we ALREADY HAVE shit-tons of mafia games. Why are they in this fantasy game? They don’t bring anything to the table other than infinitely worse gameplay, and a much dumber story (which isn’t saying much I know, but still). The only thing new about the mafia story in Skyrim is that towards the end you find out that people in the guild worship Satan for no reason…not exactly an improvement.

                  2. WJS says:

                    Yeah, you aren’t missing the point at all. It’s not the presence of a Mafia family in Skyrim that’s the problem, it’s the fact that they’re called the thieves guild. (Not to mention that I think everybody except the PC are thieves)

                2. aldowyn says:

                  gaaah I LOVED Oblivion’s thieves’ guild quest. I mean, stealing an elder scroll to break the spell of the mask on the grey fox so he could return to his previous life? That was seriously cool.

                  And the brotherhood was at least as good in Oblivion, if not better. No Cicero, but I’m not sure if that’s a plus or a minus. It DID have Lucien Lachance, which is definitely a plus :P

                  I do like the Companions’ quests though, especially compared to the remarkably generic fighter’s guild in Oblivion.

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    I agree. I vastly preferred the TG and DB quests in Oblivion to the ones in Skyrim.

                    The TG involved increasingly interesting and challenging thefts (How novel, the TG STEALS things), culminating with the most daring theft in world history. Everything works towards this one amazing theft almost like a really good heist movie.

                    The DB quest… I could say so much about the Dark Brotherhood quest. They allowed for missions with good level design and multiple approaches. Skilled players who were willing to fulfill the contract conditions got better bonus rewards, and the story was so deliciously evil. “Whodunit” is my favor RPG quest ever.

        2. Dasick says:

          My opinion is thus: almost every improvement in Skyrim neutered something that showed potential in Oblivion.

          The attributes, the leveling system, the level scaling, all needed a fix, but they got chopped off and replaced by blander systems.

          The different attributes needed their own distinct flavor rather than being boiled down to health, fatigue and magicka. Also, the attribute building could have been done similar to Fallout, where your attributes don’t improve, or be done like skills.

          Leveling in Oblivion (and Morrowind and Daggerfall) is the most organic progression system I have ever seen. You do not think about it, you just play and your character reacts to that. That is the true promise of the digital medium – better replace that with Skillpoints 2.0 that completely break immersion every time you level up. If you really need to cap progress, why not introduce a skill decay system, which coupled with learning speed increases could be a very dynamic flexible fix for a very dynamic flexible system.

          No spell creating. It wasn’t the most balanced system, but it was one of the most flexible approaches to magic I’ve ever seen even being attempted. Better cut that out because we want to have spells with distinct flavours. Well, that is good, but why not create distinct base spells for us to mess experiment with? Why not integrate it more into the game and make it available for a higher price/crappier spells to lower level mages?

          Alchemy is really interesting and exciting… on your first playthrough, but by not being tied to character progression, kinda kills replayability a bit, and the need to level alchemy on further playthroughs.

          Level scaling is still there and still bad.

          Lockpicking still pauses time. (Best implementation of lockpicking is probably MafiaII. Followed by Yahtzee’s Art of Theft)

          Mages have always been the hardest TES class to play. linear warrios, quadratic wizards and all that (no link to tvtropes, is that ok?). However, sneak and combat in that game is broken, in the favour of the player. It’s ok for AI to have advantage, since it’s just an algorithm, while the player is a thinking, learning, creative human being.

          1. aldowyn says:

            Hmm. I see your point, but I don’t always agree. Remember picking attributes when you level up in Oblivion? And the available bonuses being based on how many of which minor skills you ranked up? The attribute system was totally broken in Oblivion, and it was replaced with a much more intuitive health/magicka/stamina system. Certainly pulled me out a lot more than Skyrim’s perk system, mostly because it was so obfuscated. I just remember entire guides about optimizing classes, which is quite obviously NOT ‘just pick up and play’, and every time I started playing Oblivion I got murdered by goblins and dumb stuff like that >.> (terrible balance)

            Skyrim is just more intuitive at least for me because there is NO class. You literally just play and your playstyle evolves around what you actually do.

            I prefer the perk system to Oblivion’s automatically gaining them because it allows you further customization of your character within certain skills – which a Morrowind/Oblivion purist would probably say is better with the specific weapon skills.

            I don’t see anything hugely wrong with Skyrim’s auto-scaling levels, either. It makes a lot of sense for an exploration, do whatever you want kind of game like Skyrim – it’d be hard to avoid it honestly. And at least in my experience it’s pretty well balanced.

            One of the biggest problems with Skyrim for me though is the complete and total OPness of player-crafted and enchanted items. Usually once I get past iron/leather I never use another piece of looted armor, and money becomes only for buying materials >.>

            1. Viktor says:

              It’s not hard to avoid auto-leveling enemies in an exploration game. Make tough fights in some parts of the country, weak fights in others, and have the opening quests all in areas with weaker enemies, gradually leading to tougher and tougher fights. Give the player ways to escape(teleport/levitate/sneak/running), and suddenly people are focusing on content that fits their skill level, and if they can’t do something all they have to do is go out, grind up, and then come back tougher. It’s much harder to feel proud of yourself for beating a tough boss when the fight is exactly as hard as the last tough boss you fought.

              People are not dumb, they can be trusted to seek out appropriate challenges with a bit of guidance.

              1. X2-Eliah says:

                YEAH! Also, make the starting place have very tough monsters all around except in one direction! That’s natural and good-feeling player guidance, and not gatewalling!

                Man, I so wish that bethesda had learned from Obsidian about where to put invisible walls and where to put hordes of radscorps, cazadores and deathclaws to funnel players in a single direction! All that freedom!

                Seriously, though, screw level-gated content and screw superhard areas. I want to go whereever I damn well please and have fun in there, not be super-strong or super-weak compared to the place.

                1. lurkey says:

                  For me, it was lots of bloody fun trying to sneak past them – fun that would otherwise be lost if I just could whistle past everything, never challenged, never actually having to put any effort into anything.

                  1. X2-Eliah says:

                    Some people find repeated deaths and smashing their teeth against walls until some blocks fall out fun. I don’t. Bethesda is well known for catering to people like me and not people like the wall-face-smashers. So could the wallfacesmashers please stop slagging beth for not doing what beth is not setting out to do in the first place? You have your own developers etc.

                    Or, what if I don’t play a sneaky character? sucks to be you, gotta restart?

                    1. Even says:

                      I’d rather have a happy medium between these two “extremes”. I don’t see why Bethesda shouldn’t at least try to make their worlds feel a bit less like massive theme parks and a bit more like living, breathing things, which New Vegas succeeded in doing for the most parts.

                    2. Wedge says:

                      What about a challenge obviously placed by developers to railroad the player makes it feel like a “living, breathing world?” Skyrim felt like an actual open world because it did just let me go wherever I wanted from the word go. New Vegas, on the other hand, used too-powerful enemies to hamfistedly railroad me for the first few hours of the game, and it broke immersion for me (I loved the game once I got past that, but the point stands)

                    3. lurkey says:

                      I don’t like impossible difficulties either, Dark Souls’ pitch for me = will never play, but that Vegas thing is not impossible at all. All you need is a stealthboy or two and some luck, and in case of Kayzadors right North from Springs, not even a stealthboy if you have EDI who can serve as a distraction. And why restart? Take the easy road; it’s not like three strategically planted groups of too strong for a new character monsters is super railroading or anything.

                      And, well, it wasn’t a Bethesda game, so I think it’s not that odd it didn’t have Bethesda’s rules either.

                    4. Dasick says:

                      There is FREEDOM. It merely comes at a price. But, if freedom costs nothing, what is it’s value?

                    5. Even says:


                      Way to miss the point.

                      “What about a challenge obviously placed by developers to railroad the player makes it feel like a “living, breathing world?”

                      You say it like it’s all that there is to Mojave yet rebuke it later by saying it’s only the first few hours. What’s your point really? I did say it succeeded “for the most parts”, never said it’s perfect. I can agree, the first few hours are probably the weakest part of the whole game. But they’re pretty far from defining the world by large. Why it seems to be such a dealbreaker for some people I can probably never fully understand, but each to his own.

                      To answer your question: The reasons for its existence. Is it an obvious fleshwall obstacle? Yes. But it has reasonable in-universe reasons being there. It makes it easier to accept it as a thing out of my control and move on which helps absorbing it as part of my sense of immersion.

                      I’ll give it that Skyrim was a lot more well thought-out place than Fallout 3 ever was, but it never still had the same kind of sense of verisimilitude for me as New Vegas did. It’s not a bad game, but as a roleplaying experience it just doesn’t reach very far.

                    6. Bodyless says:

                      “So could the wallfacesmashers please stop slagging beth for not doing what beth is not setting out to do in the first place? You have your own developers etc.”

                      But then you cannot criticise Obsidian for making New Vegas the way they did either. Because that game obviously wasnt meant for beth fanboys either (if you call people who expect a challenge wall-face-smashers, then i can call you whatever i see fit too).
                      Allowing this argument would therefore make the whole discussion pointless.

                      Also, in terms of game mechanics, level scaling is wrong because it encourages counter intuitive play styles.
                      As leveling up can now be a burden instead of a boon, meta gaming to manage your skill progression is required.
                      And how much is your gear taken into account? That question is especially important when you deal with dlc which strip all your gear away.

                      So who expects to beat a deathclaw at level 1?
                      Being able to do so breaks immersion way more than any possible railroading, as it goes against established lore of the world.
                      One would also have to wonder why you put that leveling mechanic in there in the first place, if you then have to nullify any possible influence on the game flow?

                    7. Wedge says:

                      @Even: fair enough, I was probably too hard on NV in my post–like I said, I loved the game and it was only really the beginning part that bothered me. I just don’t think that Skyrim’s decision to make everything accessible at every level less valid than when other games decide to use difficult encounters as a way to gate off content. Either one is a valid decision, depending on what you’re trying to do in a game, and either one can be done poorly or well. Specifically, I don’t think it makes Skyrim feel like a “theme park” — in fact, I found Skyrim incredibly immersive.

                    8. Dasick says:

                      “Skyrim's decision to make everything accessible at every level less valid”

                      Then what’s the point of having player levels in the first place?

                2. Dasick says:

                  What’s the point of having different areas if they all play the same?

                  1. Wedge says:

                    Difficulty is not, and should not be, the only source of variety in a game.

                    1. Abnaxis says:

                      Except in games (especially Beth games), it is. You only see new enemies or new tactics when you reach the next tier of level-based difficulty.

                      This isn’t a bad thing–you shouldn’t be killing Balrogs with butter knives plus NPC types require a large investment of time and money–but it is how it is.

                    2. krellen says:

                      Just because you shouldn’t be killing Balrogs with butter knives doesn’t necessarily mean the world shouldn’t have Balrogs while you’re still equipped with butter knives.

                    3. Abnaxis says:

                      True, I agree with that fully and I was trying to make that point.

                      Wedge was trying to make the point that there is something wrong with the paradigm being used to equate variety with difficulty. I’m trying to say that difficulty=variety is a consequence of the fact that A) game play variety comes from variances in enemies faced and B) different enemies are expensive to develop. We’re not looking at it wrong, that’s just how it works out.

                      The cost restrictions in turn lead to a lack of variety in level scaled games since no matter where you go you will never see a Balrog until it is level appropriate. Either that, or you will see reused assets, with players fighting Balrogs at level one, progressing to different-colored Balrogs at level 50 (See also: XCOM).

                      Personally, I prefer all the variety being available from the beginning without re-skinning; the players will know well enough not to fight the massive demon with a flaming sword right out of the gate.

              2. Dasick says:

                You can even do level balancing using programming. The further away a spawn point is from a city, the higher level monsters it spawns.

                Games like that need an option to continue after being defeated, at a price. Death is completely immersion shattering, and having to load a game removes all tension from a conflict.

            2. Dasick says:

              I didn’t say Oblivion’s systems weren’t broken. I’m saying they could have easily been fixed on a fundamental level, without a need to re-invent them in a completely different direction. Would it not be an improvement to the attribute system if they leveled like skills? Sure, magicka/health/stamina boil-down is easier, but it’s also lacking (potential) depth of (well-thought out) attribute selection, a chance to change the game and your playstyle in a fundamental level – tell me, which is better in any situation, being able to carry more stuff, or having more skillpoints? In a really well-thought out game, you might even be able to compensate for lacking skillpoints with gear that does similar things in a different fashion.

              The lack of classes is more intuitive in a way, but one thing it did in Morrowind and Oblivion is that it gave you an incentive to pursue different paths by letting you consciously choose the headstart. Classlessness is probably better (comrade), but there is very little that defines your character at the start of the game. In my opinion, they should be like traits and quirks that do unique things, unavailable anywhere else, and Race+Birthsign in OB and MW kinda did the job, by their powers united.

              which a Morrowind/Oblivion purist would probably say is better with the specific weapon skills.

              Either that, or the the perks being inherent to the weapon, or a combination of both. And speaking of flexible, emergent systems, why not have an individual ‘used to this weapon’ progress bar the longer you use a weapon, which determines which perks become active (a la GuildWars2)?

              Level scaling really cripples the sense of progression you get from leveling, and it’s harder to give encounters discrete identity. Morrowind used a brute-force hax, in that *all* the areas had hand-crafted encounters, and re playability came from the sheer magnitude of the island.

              The problem with the economy system is the lack of a decent money sink. Ideally the more expensive the stuff you buy, the more it costs in upkeep, changing not how much money you possess but rather how much much goes through you (which is something barter would be good for determining). Skyrim also removed weapon repairing, an important money sink.

              Skyrim does appear to be a more “balanced”, more polished end-product, but also flatter, and with less potential.

              1. Zukhramm says:

                The thing about “Oblivion was broken” as an argument for Skyrim’s system is that Morrowind used the same system without being broken (mostly).

                1. Dasick says:

                  It was more balanced in Morrowind, but it’s still a fundamentally flawed idea. I don’t know if what I’m saying makes sense though :S

                  1. Zukhramm says:

                    Thought you made sense before this.

                    I don’t see what’s flawed about the idea.

                    1. Dasick says:

                      Well, the skill leveling is a very flexible system, but attribute progression isn’t as much. Also, the skill leveling system is uncapped, meaning you can become a master of all skills, and I think that is a problem.

                    2. Abnaxis says:

                      @Dasick: I felt the mods I had installed fixed all that. Now I have to go and look to see what I had…aha! nGCD and some other combination of skill uncappers to work alongside nGCD that ensured I never came remotely close to maxing anything out. Attributes were still relevant, and the system was much more intuitive and enjoyable.

                      Definitely not unfixable.

                2. newdarkcloud says:

                  I tried to play Morrowind. I really did. But it’s systems are just as broken as Oblivions. I had no fun.

              2. aldowyn says:

                The economy and equipment progression in Skyrim were pretty messed up, I’ll give you that one. Nothing to spend money on except houses and next to no reason to use anything other than crafted or faction armor. Thus making loot almost pointless, which is just a WEIRD idea in a Bethesda game.

                I can’t agree with the ‘level-scaling cripples the sense of progression you get from leveling’, though, at least not personally. That progression is actually the MAIN thing that drives me through Skyrim at all – although the smithing system is entirely too important and visible, with the result that I tend to peter out after maxing smithing.

                I know a level 30 character feels a lot more powerful than a level 10 character. A big point is that not ALL the enemies end up level-scaled – you still run into normal bandits and normal draugr at higher levels, you just smash them into oblivion in one shot and move on to the harder enemies – you know, like draugr deathlords and such.

                And there ARE parts of Skyrim that AREN’T auto-leveled. Actually, pretty much EVERYTHING that isn’t bandits, draugr, and I guess dragons. All the animals are constant, and some are deliberately placed – like the frost troll on the way to High Hrothgar. Giants are a big deal, as are Hagravens. etc. etc. Dragon priests are among the hardest enemies in the game, and they’re present from the very beginning.

                So yeah I think Skyrim’s progression is fairly well implemented, although I can see your point about the attribute system and ESPECIALLY the perks or quirks at character creation. Fallout 3/NV’s perk system is just more interesting in a lot of ways than Skyrim’s. Certainly more flexible and less requiring of specialization. They’re PERKS, not virtual requirements for the skill. (Perhaps Oblivion’s auto-perks at certain skill levels and then a system more like new-era Fallout as well?)

                Man progression is fun to talk about XD

                1. Abnaxis says:

                  The progression system in Skyrim seriously, seriously broke the game for me. My problems were: first, it can result in horribly unbalanced auto-levelling enemies. Pro-tip: avoid pickpocketing and lock-picking like the plague. The perks look nice, but you will never, ever be able to use them when you need them because sneaking into melee range of any dangerous enemy is virtually impossible.
                  I didn’t know this right, and finally just had to quit as enemies auto-levelled to the point of being unbeatable.

                  Second, there is absolutely no reason to ever reroll another character beyond the first. If I want to try magic, why should I start over? The only possible difference it will make is maybe 5 points in a skill at a level that they’re easy to train anyway, or a race granted perk that’s either OP or useless. A newly minted character created with the intention of being a mage has no advantage over a veteran character that’s heretofore been played as a straight fighter. And just in case you wanted to replay for roleplaying purposes, NPCs won’t react to anything you do, so you might as well just take your berserker orc, slap a robe on him, and start training destruction since you get to keep all your stuff then.

                  My favorite system was a mod I used in Oblivion. I don’t remember the name now, but it (optionally) kept all the class skills and attributes while throwing away all the leveling mechnics. You don’t pick attributes to increase, they’re automatically determined by a combination what skills you have points in and your race. It then computed a number for your “effective level” for Oblivion to crunch in it’s auto-leveling.

                  This has a number of positive effects. First, you actually pick class skills to fit the class you want to play (pet peeve from Oblivion–it’s more optimal to pick skills you DON’T intend to use as class skills). Second, it blunted the problem of “you leveled the wrong skill,” both by giving you attribute points (lockpicking won’t help you win a fight, but Agility will) and by assigning different weights to non-combat versus combat skills (impossible to do in Skyrim by it’s design). Finally, it actually gave me a reason to play again (an orc mage is never going to have as much intelligence as a high elf mage, so it’s actually worth it to play though as both).

          2. newdarkcloud says:

            Oh spell-crafting… how I miss you so.

            I am saddened that the removed you because (I suspect) of their dual-casting/overloading system and the rigidity it required.

          3. newdarkcloud says:

            Aside from missing things like spell-crafting, I do feel that Skyrim at least plays better than Oblivion did. Streamlining and simplifying systems is not a bad thing. In TES, it was much needed.

            I will say that overall I have more fond memories of Oblivion than I do of Skyrim. Oblivion’s world felt better to be in for me. It was more varied and vibrant. It also reacted better to what you did. At least passers-by recognized you for your reputation.

            1. StashAugustine says:

              I do have to say, for all my complaints about Fallout 3, the skill system is much better balanced than the original. Sure, you get too many points at the end and SPECIAL isn’t very important, but each skill is very useful and it’s pretty hard to accidentally gimp yourself.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Agreed. Fallout 3 has a fantastic skill system. Every skill has a practical use and the game is fairly balanced.

                1. IFS says:

                  *Cough* Barter *cough*

                  Hmm, although that is really the only example I can think of.

                  Although one could argue that its only “balanced” because the game gives you sooooo many skill points it really doesn’t matter where you put most of them.

                  1. StashAugustine says:

                    Compare to trying to beat FO1 with a throwing/gambling/traps build.

                    1. Dasick says:

                      Try a gambling survivalist doctor.

                2. Lame Duck says:

                  The flipside of this being that the perks are spectacularly unbalanced.

                  1. StashAugustine says:

                    New Vegas did do perks better. But the original had just as many useless skill point perks as well as some really gamebreaking ones (10 AG, 10 LK, Fast Shot, Bonus Rate of Fire, Better Criticals, Sniper)

        3. Jeff says:

          Mages are brokenly strong against humanoid enemies. Invisibility, Sneak, and Frenzy will take care of practically everything. Have Invisibility ready to fire in your other hand while casting Frenzy, release Invisibility shortly after Frenzy, then walk up behind the survivor and cut his throat.

          When I went into that Wolf-whatever cave where you see these people at a distance on a caster trying to summon/resurrect some lady, I cast a Frenzy up there. Bodies flying everywhere, being reanimated by other casters, killing other people. By the time I walked up everybody was dead and the reanimated enemies had turned to ash (as the spell ended).

          1. WJS says:

            There being broken spells does not mean that mages in general are powerful. The quintessential mage combat style isn’t frenzy (and sneak attack! That’s not mage at all!), it’s blasting foes with fire and lightning. I haven’t tried a pure mage in Skyrim, but I’ve heard that destruction is broken in a bad way.

      2. anaphysik says:

        Um, ‘J Sawyer’? Like, y’know, the Josh Sawyer from Interplay & Obsidian? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Sawyer

        1. Raygereio says:

          The same. He’s good people and an allround cool guy.

        2. Even says:

          That’s the guy. Though according to his own words, he just made it to suit his own preferences. Him being the lead designer for New Vegas is probably why people put so much weight to the release of the mod. All it really does is just a series of tweaks and small changes to the game with the hardcore mode in mind, making it a lot more challenging.

          1. Dasick says:

            They’re a series of *balancing* tweaks (in a single player game!!!) that focus on making the game more challenging in interesting ways (and not just masochistically frustrating ) and making each weapon, attribute, perk and skill path a valid part of the game. He also integrated the pre-order stuff into the game, as opposed to just giving it to the player.

            That’s dedication.

    4. One problem I’m seeing in a lot of RPGs, but Bethesda’s especially is the way DLC tends to break the game in favor of the player so radically that just grabbing the best swag from one DLC makes you nigh invincible. On a side note, I will say New Vegas did its darndest to keep this from happening, as even at my toughest, I was still not going to survive an encounter with over two deathclaws at once, if that.

      Which brings up my question: Are we meant to play the DLCs in one game with one character, or is it just supposed to expand the side quest potential for a game? If I ever play F3 again, I’d skip Operation Anchorage and perhaps Mothership Zeta, as I didn’t find them as fun or compelling as the others (yeah, the swamp folk were stupid, but I love gettin’ me a necronomicon rip off). Even the vanilla game gets pretty easy if you get the right perks and/or go through the wasteland like an OCD loot vacuum cleaner.

      I ask this because that’s NOT how you’d play a tabletop RPG, and if you tried, the DM wouldn’t allow it because you aren’t searching every dang desk in a five-story building for caps and ammo, even if you buy pizza for everyone. So is this an attempt to just make the world have bigger potential that doesn’t fit the way people play it, or is the way people play these games not something the designers gave much thought to?

      1. aldowyn says:

        Well, Bethesda games in particular are designed to appeal to a lot of different kinds of gamers. Completionists, Munchkins, explorers, even roleplayers to some extent. So having that loot everywhere enables some of those playstyles.

        In short: Open-world games aren’t really much like tabletop RPGs :P

      2. drkeiscool says:

        The problem with the New Vegas DLC is that the weapons felt too underpowered, at least from Lonesome Road. I know they need to keep things balanced and all, but the Red Glare was worthless, even with maxed out Demolitions and all the upgrades.

        And isn’t DLC (in regards to this genre) supposed to expand the sidequest potential and be played with one character?

        1. Raygereio says:

          The problem with the New Vegas DLC is that the weapons felt too underpowered, at least from Lonesome Road.

          Wha? Each DLC had outstanding guns/armour/items. For example Honest Hearts’ .45 is the best pistol weapon and Old World Blues’ LAER is the best energy rifle.
          But they all did fit well into the game’s balance. So if you’re used to DLCs giving you outright broken crap, they may feel underpowered now that you’re faced with good gamedesign.

          As for the Red Glare: It was never worthless to me.
          Mind you, splash damage from explosives is a bit broken in the Gamebryo engine. The game will attempt to shield things from splash damage when they’re behind a wall or cover. But this can result in people being shielded from damage when they’re standing behind a pebble. You can see this sometimes happening in this very Fallout 3 LP when Josh is using grenades and isn’t damaging stuff.
          That and the Red Glare’s splash damage in general isn’t impressive. So always hit stuff in the chest.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I felt that the DLC weapons, while perhaps not OP, were markedly better than most of the weapons in the vanilla games.

            1. Even says:

              I still maintain that the Holorifle is closest to a gamebreaking weapon the game has. When fully upgraded, the damage potential is on par with a gauss rifle, except it fires faster and has a DoT effect after each shot.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                Oh yes. I had a LOT of fun with the Holorifle.

                Though I spent more time with Christine’s Silenced Sniper Rifle and That Gun. If you combine a high luck, some perks, Ulysses’s Duster, and the 1st Recon Beret, along with the X2 crit chance of That Gun, you get a HUGE crit chance.

                The Silenced Sniper also makes for an effective distance weapon for sneak attack criticals.

                1. Jeff says:

                  I combined the COS Sniper Rifle with the Survivialist’s Rifle, actually. The latter is basically the highest damage weapon in the game (with hand loader), if something got up in my face it goes full auto too, and turns them into gibs.

                  1. newdarkcloud says:

                    I would’ve probably used the Survivalist’s Rifle, but the particular ammo it uses was hard to find and expensive.

                    At least until Josh showed us that vendor in Camp McCarren on Spoiler Warning.

          2. Keeshhound says:

            Taken on it’s own, the Red Glare is an alright mini-rocket launcher. Unfortunately, it’s per shot/explosion damage is rather low, making it much less effective against armor than even a standard grenade launcher.

          3. drkeiscool says:

            Yeah, I was too broad in my condemnation of the DLC weapons; I actually enjoy using most of them over the default guns.

            I’m bitter about the Red Glare, though. Screw game balance, it’s the signature weapon of the Divide, and as such, should be an absolute murder machine. Make it a unique weapon. Give it a limited ammo supply. But I felt that it was extremely underpowered: the Anti-materiel rifle with explosive rounds is more accurate, and the variety of grenade launchers are more powerful.

          4. drkeiscool says:

            Yeah, I was too broad in my condemnation of the DLC weapons; I actually enjoy using most of them over the default guns.

            I feel bitter about the Red Glare, though. Screw game balance, it’s the signature weapon of the Divide, and as such, should be an absolute murder machine. Make it a unique weapon. Give it a limited ammo supply. But I felt that it was extremely underpowered: the Anti-materiel rifle with explosive rounds is more accurate, and the variety of grenade launchers are more powerful.

            1. drkeiscool says:

              And my comment finally decided to upload.

        2. lurkey says:

          Well, that’s your own fault for going for the biggest, heaviest thing and overlooking cute, little, deadly H&H Tools nail gun.

          1. anaphysik says:


            That DOES look really ‘cute.’ I’ll definitely have to scoop one up when I get around to getting/playing Lonesome Road :D (Started playing New Vegas recently.)

            1. If, like Josh, you’re a “crit-stacking bastard,” you might want to look at the limited edition Abilene Kid BB Gun.

              The Munchkin-ness of this gun is pretty amusing:

              “Although it shows no obvious significant differences to the standard version when examined in the player’s Pip-Boy, it has a slightly higher critical chance and a dramatically higher critical damage bonus, boasting an astounding 70 points of added damage for a critical hit. With the Better Criticals perk a critical hit from the Abilene Kid LE BB gun is on par with one from a sniper rifle, doing 109 damage total compared to the sniper rifle’s 113.”

      3. False Prophet says:

        Let’s just say that tabletop RPGs and computer RPGs started going in different directions almost as soon as the latter was invented.

        1. Oh, definitely. My point is that Fallout (and Skyrim, I suppose) is still trying to do the tabletop thing where there’s loads to do if you want to do it, but the games really aren’t designed to still hold as much challenge if you decide to take every advantage and become a walking pile of money, weapons, armor, and maxed-out skills.

          1. Dasick says:

            Bethesda games have no meaningful lose condition and no persistent threat to motivate you to get your ass in gear.

            FO1 had the water chip timer, but timers tend to be too inflexible, too heavy handed. Plus, not enough variation to keep the player from playing the same segments over and over.

            1. Not just the water chip timer. The fates of several locations and groups hinged on how quickly and in what order you did things.

      4. Dasick says:

        EXPANSION PACK material should not be better or worse, but different.

  6. Fawstoar says:

    Wow. I think I need to watch Six-String Samurai right now, this instant.

    Somehow I’ve never stumbled across it before in my post-apocalyptic pop culture search; this is what Fallout 3 should have been like! Maybe with a touch of Book of Eli’s stylistic cinematography, too. I wanted to like that movie, but the plot felt too forced and the religious themes were very out of place.

    While I’m still blabbing about the cinema, I might as well endorse Brazil – such an excellent film. It makes me sad that the majority of the newer generation is going to miss out on these underrated titles.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Six-String Samurai was way cooler in theory than it was in actual practice (my college’s dvd library had it in & I rented it because it looked mega-cool). I’d say it’s still worth watching for a few very fun moments (and I do like its “de-anamorphic” opening quite a lot), but don’t go in hyped-up about it or you’ll leave disappointed :/

      1. StashAugustine says:

        It’s a little fun, the post-apocalyptic elements are pretty cool, the opening is great, but don’t go in too excited.

        Also, the movie’s pretty good.

      2. False Prophet says:

        I’d say most of Six String’s problems are with pacing. There are a lot of scenes that really stretch things out, like it was a 20-minute short film stretched out to a 90-minute feature. It definitely has its cool moments and Buddy was a cool enough character for me to use as a Halloween costume a few years ago. I just wish so much of it wasn’t so dull.

        1. anaphysik says:

          It’s true, I too think Six-String Samurai would work a lot better as a short film.

          Still, it is worth watching. Just not getting /excited/ about. Better to think ‘hey, that was actually kinda neat’ than ‘wow, that was WAY less cool than it was in my head’ :/

  7. Deadfast says:

    So, we’re just 5 episodes in and at 0.224% BAC we’re already unconscious. Somehow I think Spoiler Warning would kill you even if you were to drink non-alcoholic beer.

    1. MrGuy says:


      Non-alcoholic beer isn’t alcohol free. It’s low alcohol beer. Typical beer is about 5% alcohol. “Non-alcoholic” beer is about 0.5% alcohol.

      If (I don’t know the assumptions that went into the original model) we were considering a drink to be one beer, then non-alcoholic beer is 0.1 drink.

      So cumulatively, we’re up to 2.8 drinks in 2.83 hours, which is basically keeping up with the rate alcohol is metabolized in the liver. If (as we all suspect) the rate of drinks starts to pick up in later episodes, we might well be able to get drunk on non-alcoholic beer.

      1. czhah says:

        I get the feeling that the number of drinks consumed during the season wiuld kill most people with electrolyte imbalance alone, regardless of alcohol content.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I dont know.I once witnessed a guy blow 2,5″°,while standing.Though it was after a car crash.And there were news here about some people doing 5″°.So some of us may still survive.Probably just the bearded short ones though.

      1. MrGuy says:

        No. No you haven’t.

        0.5% is the point at which alcohol becomes “very likely fatal” in humans (and is somewhere between 5-7 times the legal limit, depending on your jurisdiction).

        2.5% is 5 times the FATAL does in humans. 5% is 10 times the fatal dose (and, incidentally, is the point at which your blood has the alcohol content of beer).

        I can believe you saw someone blow .25% (which is pretty impressive, actually). But 2.5%? Not a chance.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Thats why I didnt use the % sign but the “° sign.

          EDIT:And Ive just realized that maybe the sign doesnt appear to everyone,so to clarify:I used the permille sign,because in my country blood alcohol is measured in permilles and not percents.

          1. Vagrant says:

            honest question.
            was that you being clever or is that a standard sign where you’re from?

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              It is a standard sign here.In fact,before tonight,I didnt even know that its so obscure in english speaking countries.

              1. Shamus says:

                Well what do you know. Every day’s a school day.

                1. Wedge says:

                  My favorite is “±, which is permyriad

                2. Adam says:

                  The homeschooler’s credo. I know it well.

              2. McNutcase says:

                That may just be because it’s so easy for us lazy english-speakers to confuse with the % sign. It may also be because it doesn’t appear on English-language keyboards (neither UK nor US, and neither Windows nor Mac versions of either language; I’m familiar with all 4 layouts) and so is a little bit trickier to type.

                1. WJS says:

                  I’m no expert on international keyboard layouts, but I’d be surprised if it appears on any keyboard. So what? Keyboards are only intended for the characters you use most frequently, you really shouldn’t limit yourself to only using symbols that are on one.

              3. Thomas says:

                English isn’t your first language?

                It’s pretty embarrassing being British sometimes, people going around speaking better English as their second language than half of us speak as our first, whilst a Brit who can say ‘Hello. I would like a coca-cola, please.’ in a foreign language is treated like a linguistic marvel.

                1. Deadpool says:

                  English is my second language too.

                  I think part of the fact is that, having learned it at a later age, I managed to learn things more clearly than a child would. Also, the super strange and odd ones are usually different enough from my normal set of grammar rules that the brain picks up the difference better.

                  It doesn’t help that grammar is a small pet peeve of mine. Not using the possessive after the gerund is probably the one that bothers me the most.

                  1. Thomas says:

                    Now you’re making me look up words in my own language! And I presume you’d absolute school me in my own grammar if we were to ever have a grammar-off.

                    Some people are just too talented

                    EDIT: I’m grateful for the word though, trying to speak German has taught me all to well the awesomeness of Gerunds

                    1. Dasick says:

                      I learned English back in the motherland and I had English classes in Canada. You guys are just never taught the language, you’re merely allowed to learn it through use, and that causes a lot of errors to become permanent, and then be passed on to the next generation.

                      In Russian class back in the motherland, they schooled us on Russian grammar. In every essay, every *single* grammatical mistake is an instant downgrade (ie an A becomes a B, a D becomes an F).

                    2. Deadpool says:

                      Seriously not talent. Just a function of learning these rules TWICE… one of them at a much later date than most.

                  2. Zukhramm says:

                    Meh. That’s one of those rules I know yet cannot bring myself to follow.

                2. Khizan says:

                  This is because English is the lingua franca of the world.

                  So it’s not surprising at all when people speak it, because speaking English is an important skill. However, this means that, for English speakers, it’s less important to know another language, because everybody seemingly already knows English. So relatively few of us native English speakers learn another language, because most of us have no need for it.

              4. Vagrant says:

                Next question: what does it actually mean? I get the impression that it’s like a thousandth but I’d like to be sure. It gets zero hits from Google.

                1. Simon Buchan says:

                  Here you go! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Per_mil
                  I pretty much only knew about this due to trawling font tables (for vaguely work-related reasons), which is not really a normal human person thing.

                2. anaphysik says:

                  percent = per hundred
                  permil = per thousand

                  Personally, though, I use ppt/ppm/ppb ;P

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Ah,but is the last one long billion or short billion?

                    Let me tell you,that one took me a while to get used to.

                    1. Raygereio says:

                      I once worked with a company that had a project fail and lost a huge investment because of people got those two billions confused. I wasn’t personally involved, but from I heard the people that were still have nightmares about it.

                    2. Indy says:

                      Just to be clear, long billion is a thousand million, right? And short billion is a hundred million? How did this ever come to be? Did somebody just miss a zero one day and decide ‘no, that’s a billion where I come from’?

                      Nope, I just looked it up” and I’m way off. A thousand million is a short billion and a million million is a long billion. I really thought it was the other way.

                      Short billion is the only real billion.

                    3. Deadfast says:

                      Billion according to the short scale is 1,000,000,000.00. Or maybe,00. Also, a week ago was 8/1/2013 or maybe 1/8/2013. I get confused a lot.

                    4. Thomas says:

                      Both systems are silly :( I grew up thinking that there’d be an fantastic logical system where a thousand thousand was a million and a million million was a billion and a billion billion was a trillion… but no even the long-form system is just an arbitrary power of ten

                    5. Daemian Lucifer says:


                      Recently I had some problems with my cell,so I had to use a temporary one.And naturally,it used a different time format from my regular one.And also naturally,it didnt say which came first,days or moths.Really frustrating.

                      People say that homogenization of cultures due to internet,movies and games is a bad thing,but I say that some standardization of these things is sorely needed.

                    6. Zukhramm says:

                      I never memorized either definition. Do I win? Just wright “time 10 to the power of” instead and no one is confused.

                    7. MrGuy says:

                      I spent some time in India, and what messed with my head was the use of lakh (100,000) and crore (10,000,000) as the most common way to express large numbers. My poor western “you get a new number every 3 zeros” brain took a few months to catch up…

                    8. aldowyn says:

                      I always thought ‘thousand’ never fit, and we could make 1000 million, 1,000,000 billion and so on, and then the prefixes (mi, bi, tri, quadr, etc) could refer to the number of triple-zero sets. the -ard’s never made sense to me for sure, but then I’m American.

                      I mean, Milliardaire? Really?

                    9. WJS says:

                      If you want logical rules, Long Scale seems better to me. “Billion” is short for “bi-million”.
                      billion = million²
                      trillion = tri-million = million³ etc.
                      Short Scale is… what?
                      Let’s try the millions thing:
                      billion = million ^ 1.5
                      trillion = million ^ 2
                      Nope. That doesn’t work at all. Thousands?
                      billion = thousand ^ 3
                      trillion = thousand ^ 4 etc.
                      At least it’s whole numbers now. But we’re using the wrong base, and our exponent is one too high.
                      Personally, I would try to avoid either, and use either scientific or SI prefixes, but I doubt that most people would understand (which is apparently worse than understanding wrong? Seriously, fuck people).

                  2. X2-Eliah says:

                    ppt? Ugh. That just makes me think of powerpoint, not a volume/fraction measure.

            2. X2-Eliah says:

              It’s pretty much a standard sign across most of the europe.

    3. Tse says:

      We’ve already reached half a liter, in an episode or two I may reach my limit(about 700ml before any ill effects). Hm, my BAC is about 0,194 at this point, not too bad.
      Aaand, it turns out my limit is 0,285%. Or I may just metabolize alcohol faster.

  8. SpiritBearr says:

    Finally the episode that made me start to watch spoiler warning

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    To be fair to the game,its stupid fun.Though I still couldnt play it past megaton myself,watching this show has shown me all the glory of its idiocy.But I still prefer somewhat more serious,and just as fun new vegas.

    Also,one unrelated thing came to mind while watching this*:Old world blues safe house is a really well done safe house.You get storage,healing,shop,crafting and customization all next to each other,not separated by any loading screens.It spoiled me so much.

    *My mind works in really weird ways sometimes.

    1. Klay F. says:

      Old World Blues is exactly what Fallout 3 and vanilla New Vegas should have been tone wise.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        There’s a reason that DLC is almost universally praised among Fallout fans.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          And that reason is *shivers and sighs heavily* breathing.Ahhhhh…..

          1. lurkey says:

            Mine was “Electron’s attached to the… neutron. The neutron’s attached to the… meson. Meson’s connected to the… proton”

            Well, among other countless things.

        2. Klay F. says:

          Well, that and “penis-fingers”.

          EDIT: Aww yeah, dodged the moderation queue. I am a commenting NINJA!

      2. Zukhramm says:

        I’m so glad it was not. Silly can be fun, but there are limits where it would make the whole world and story seem pretty much meaningless to me.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          But old world blues wasnt just silly.Silly was the surface.Underneath it there was a much grimmer and sad reality.This blend of silly and dark is what made the dlc that good.

          That and,like Ive said,a hub that spoils you.

          1. Zukhramm says:

            I didn’t say wasn’t, I say the silly was too silly for me.

            1. StashAugustine says:

              Yeah, it’s a perfectly fine DLC, but for me the “Fallout feeling” is mixing with the NCR, mopping up raiders, working for Crimson Caravans, and generally watching a post-apocalyptic society recover.

              1. Khizan says:

                For me, the ideal Fallout feeling actually occurred in Fallout 3.

                Specifically, the Super Duper Mart. At this point, I was barely out of the(admittedly stupid) Vault. I had a terrible quality 9mm pistol that jammed on me repeatedly, and maybe a clip and a half of ammo for it. And I had to get medicine out of the locked pharmacy in an old supermarket that’s infested with bandits. (Ignore the fact that it still has medicine we want to use, 200 years later. hush).

                Sneaking around carefully, constantly worried about getting into more trouble than 15 bullets could handle, trying to handle bandits with an old kitchen knife to preserve my precious ammo… it was a very hardcore survivalisty feeling.

                I got a stronger feeling of “post apolocalyptic wasteland” from this one quest than I ever did in any other Fallout game, largely because a bandit walking around the corner and autopausing for my combat turn doesn’t result in me frantically hammering off half a clip of irreplaceable ammo in panic fire.

                Of course, the game all went to hell after that, but for that one brief shining moment, Fallout 3 was perfect.

                1. Dasick says:

                  Having multiple failure states is incredibly important to games, because when you hit that “Game over” loading screen, completely shatters any tension the situation had.

                  Some games don’t even have a game over, they just let you take progress hits, but because their systems have random set-up and complex interchanges it’s still presenting you new situations when you are defeated, and if the core mechanics are balanced and rich, then you’re going to have a good time.

                  Minecraft is almost a good example, and Mount&Blade is pretty much the forerunner in the field.

                2. WJS says:

                  Because naturally, the “Fallout feeling” is all about what you prefer in a “post apolocalyptic wasteland”, and not anything to do with what the game “Fallout” was like.

  10. Dasick says:

    The problem with Fallout3 is that it was almost universally praised when it came out (so was Oblivion and so is Skyrim), which pretty much shield any artists over at Bethesda from criticism and having an incentive to improve, change tactics or just plain say “we need a different team to handle this”.

    I know the common criticism about this season of spoiler warning is that it gets very negative, especially in the end, but on the large scale of things, that’s pretty minor, and much needed.

    1. aldowyn says:

      Yeah, this. Bethesda does make really enjoyable games, at least for many people, but that doesn’t mean we can’t criticize it – even Skyrim, which was almost unanimously GotY in 2011. Even the things that the game doesn’t really focus on – like narrative in every bethesda game like ever.

      I just wish the opposite was true of Bioware around here >.>

      1. krellen says:

        While this probably isn’t true for many others around here, for my part, I never really liked BioWare. That isn’t to say I loathe them (as I do Bethesda, actually), but they were far from my favourite.

        I think a lot of what gets them their reputation is that fact that Baldur’s Gate came at a formative time for many of the current generation, and thus fixated in their minds. For me, Baldur’s Gate came along when I was a little older, and I already had ample cRPG and DnD experience before it, so it never struck me as something so amazing and new and awesome.

        My actual formative cRPG experience were the “Gold Box” first-edition games by SSI. That’s still the experience (though I wouldn’t object to better quality sprites or having the journal integrated in the game) I really want when I play an RPG.

        1. aldowyn says:

          Yeah, I’d buy that. Whereas my ‘formative’ CRPGs would be… KotOR, Neverwinter Nights 2, and maybe Oblivion.

          Not coincidentally, Bioware, Obsidian and Bethesda. That was pretty much the beginning of the current era of western RPGs I’d say.

        2. bloodsquirrel says:

          Bioware had the advantage of having little to no competition for a long time. There weren’t (and still aren’t) a whole lot of studios pumping out AAA RPGs. For a long time Bethesda was the only other one, and in a lot of ways they didn’t really start getting their act together until Fallout 3.

          Bioware was the best mostly by default, but now that they’re moving out of the RPG business and into the CoD/God of War business there’s not much for their old RPG fans to like about them.

          1. Jokerman says:

            You mean western RPGs right? Jpgs were doing alright.

            1. bloodsquirrel says:

              JRPGs and western RPGs are little more than superficially similar. There’s really no need to even mention them in this context.

              1. krellen says:


                To clarify: both Japanese and Western RPGs are defined by a system wherein the character, not the player, is the defining actor determining success or failure. A player’s skill at <thing> doesn’t mean the character can do <thing>.

                1. bloodsquirrel says:

                  That definition is incredibly full of holes.

                  What’s the difference between Ninja Gaiden and Skyrim? Both require player skill to hit something, and both have stats that determine how much damage you do, which can be raised through experience.

                  Is Ninja Gaiden an RPG? Watch the videos I linked to below- superficial mechanics make for terrible ways to classify genres.

                  1. Dasick says:

                    A lot of games are incorporating RPG meta-elements because they make for great skinner-boxes.

                    A game *about* building a character and a game about something different with the character building in *support* of that are totally fundamentally different.

          2. aldowyn says:

            gah. There’s a BIIIG difference between Mass Effect 3 and Gears of War >.> The leveling makes a huge difference in the game, there’s still a TON of character interaction, yada yada yada

            Let’s not argue that point though, although I will admit they are obviously moving away from their roots in tactical RPGs.

            More directly to your point, Black Isle and then Obsidian has ALWAYS been Bioware’s main competitor, and with NV and Project Eternity they’re starting to diverge, finally. (Obsidian was attached to Bioware’s hip for a while…)

            RPG is just so general a term it’s almost useless, especially now as classically ‘RPG’ mechanics are invading so many other genres. Like, all of them ever.

            Comparing Bethesda and Bioware is just apples and oranges, despite them both technically being RPGs (or action RPGs, which is what I’d call Mass Effect)

            1. bloodsquirrel says:

              Black Isle/Obsidian were “The guys who make straight-to-video sequels to Bioware’s games.” Not really what I would call a competitor. Even NV was a sequel to a Bethesda game.

              And, yes, there is a big difference between Gears of War and ME- Gears of War was made by a studio with a lot of experience in the area, and it shows in the final product.

              I’d suggest watching this extra credits video:

              As well as these:

              They do a good job of explaining the difference between having “RPG mechanics” and “Being an RPG”. Bioware is abandoning some of the core RPG aesthetics, even if they’re holding over the mechanics. Case in point: the leveling system in Mass Effect doesn’t serve much of a purpose anymore. There isn’t much of a gameplay or narrative reason for Shepard to be getting stronger as the game goes on. The entire system could be taken out without the game suffering for it.

              1. I’d rather have a mix of challenges. Taking out leveling as a sign that “whoa, I shouldn’t be here” means that progress is just a matter of collecting the right tickets that let you through the properly-coded doors in the plot.

                “You want to go to Earth? You need Wrex first. Why? Because we said so, now go get him.”

                1. bloodsquirrel says:

                  Well, that’s one of the points of having a leveling system, but Bioware is defeating that by using level scaling and controlled progression. They’re keeping the mechanic of having experience and levels, but not the actual effect of seeing your progression.

                  Bethesda, fortunately, realized how insane that was and massively toned down the scaling for Skyrim.

                  1. Dasick says:

                    Why have level scaling, toned down or not in the first place? Whatever the goal, isn’t there a better solution?

      2. Dasick says:

        I dunno about ‘enjoyable’, at least for me. They certainly got scope and world building, and they can do some pretty impressive and promising things with their tech… but their systems tend to be shallow and broken. That’s really the most grating thing for me about Bethesda – they show promise, but their products seem to be half-baked.

        Where have you been during the ME 1 2 and 3 seasons?

        1. aldowyn says:

          It’s hard to deny there’s SOMETHING more than the world that’s compelling to Skyrim. A game doesn’t become the biggest phenomenon of the year JUST on the world. That was the point of the ‘at least for many people’.

          As for that last comment, I’ve been firmly ignoring as much of it as I can, at least for ME3, because I’ve come to the conclusion that what most of you guys and the Spoiler Warning crew wants in a game is quite different from what I want in a game. The ME3 season made that painfully obvious. ME3 has its issues, but the ones I have are pretty different from what they spent most of the ME3 season talking about as far as I’ve heard (I think I stopped watching on Mars, but I participated in the comments a fair amount anyway)

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            Skipping that season is probably for the best. It got really painful for everyone involved towards the end. Honestly, I watched it more for closure than anything else.

          2. Thomas says:

            The thing about Skyrim was everyone knew it was game of the year before the review copies had even come out. It was weird just how effectively they managed to dominate daily conversation, considering the big Skyrim trailer was even all live action.

            I think the Nordic thing just really clicked with people.

            And then it had to be a good game or else the hype would make a sharp reversal as we’ve seen. But the marketing sold it first

            1. AyeGill says:

              I’m going to go on record and state that the trailer that sold skyrim for me was the one where Max Von Sydow narrates rock carvings(“But! There is one they fear…”)

              1. X2-Eliah says:

                Max Von Sydow’s in-game VA performance was pretty miserable, though. As Esbern/Esbjorn, the voicing was extremely lazy and all-over-the-place, often mixing up with the greybead leader’s voice style.

                1. AyeGill says:

                  True. Although I didn’t talk much to Esbern in-game, so it didn’t annoy me so much.

                  1. aldowyn says:

                    especially if you get that one bug where you literally can’t hear him because he just buzzes through his dialogue at flash-like speeds. >.> Although there IS a fix…

                    But yeah that’s the big trailer I think of. In no small part due to the literal trailer of it as well…

          3. Klay F. says:

            I’m going on record here and saying that the “SOMETHING” you are referring to is bugs. Seriously, how many videos have been made by idiotic youtubers showing that stupid bug with the giant that launches you into the air? The vast, VAST majority of videos of Skyrim on youtube are of bugs. I’m pretty sure the only reason the game became such a phenomenon was because Bethesda programmer are incompetent.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              That,and it had an arrow in its knee.

            2. Viktor says:

              I thought the giant launching you was intentional. Or at least, was a bug they decided was too cool to fix. Because seriously, that was a fun way of demonstrating that giants are DAMN powerful.

            3. X2-Eliah says:

              1) I disagree,
              2) Youtube in general is stupid and does not represent what people who actually pay for and play the games instead of watching shitty videos want in them.

          4. Dasick says:

            Sure, Skyrim’s (and Oblivion, and Fallout3) got “something”. Aside from the level of freedom you get (as far as AAA games go, it’s still the most freedom you can get in a videogame), there is the promise/potential/effort of something incredibly, earthshatteringly awesome. I can appreciate that, and I will defend Bethesda for their attempts, even if the results are seriously lacking.

            1. I just fired up F3 again recently (nostalgia over SW called), and I have to say that even though the opening sequence until you leave the vault is painful and irritating, once you’re out in the wasteland, the atmospherics are enthralling. It’s probably akin to how Shamus likes the dungeon-y aspects of the metro tunnels. The broken architecture, the lack of a lot of artificial lights apart from fires, etc.

              If only they could be more canonical and get some better writers…

          5. Jokerman says:

            If there is one thing i love Bethesda for its the fact they pact in so much content, you know for your 60 bucks or what ever that you will get a load of content – and if you enjoy the gameplay just a little you will be playing it for a long time. I see Bethesda as the safe bet. Buying a 10 hour game for the same price is a big risk….

            1. Dasick says:

              How about buying a game where the gameplay is so good, you will be playing it 10 years from now? (XCOM)

              Or even 40? (Tetris)

              Or how about people still playing the game thousands of years later? (Go, Chess)

              The concept of a game that has a finite amount of hours in it is ridiculous, yet we accept it as granted.

        2. bloodsquirrel says:

          Up to Oblivion that was certainly true, but Fallout 3 worked fairly well and Skyrim was left me with few complaints. The only really broken thing about it was the amount of effort it took to sell loot.

          Overall, Bethesda seems to be improving while still focusing on the things that people actually like about their games.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I’d seriously have almost no problems with Bethesda if they could just tighten up their writing and get some good editors.

            1. Dasick says:

              Their systems tend to be pretty broken. Bethesda have expressed their desire to focus on gameplay and simulation, so that makes sense as their priority.

              Also, their systems are incredibly open-ended. Shamus has banged on this point before, but modern requirements for Good Writing would require them to account for way more possibilities than possible. The best course of action for them would be to make their stories as non-specific as possible to avoid drawing negative attention to it. (*Cough* thieves guild *cough*). IE a serviceable excuse plot, non-specific lines, context gained through their systems.

              1. aldowyn says:

                They’ve been pushing the idea of a living breathing gameworld a lot, but I’ve never seen it come close to working. It still all feels canned, rote, and artificial. The interesting parts to me were always tied into the progression – of course that’s the main reason I play the TES games, so that would make sense.

      3. newdarkcloud says:

        I think a lot of the backlash from Bioware (we were talking about this on Twitter) comes from disappointment more than anything. People were expecting Bioware to have at least some degree of competency with their writing. When we were confronted with such mediocre to bad writing, it was shockingly bad. (Although, for the record, my only experiences with Bioware are Jade Empire and Mass Effect. I have DA:O, but I have not played it yet.)

        With Bethesda, you know EXACTLY what you are getting. Every game is pretty much the exact same: An open world game with great environmental storytelling and loads of exploration potential, but with a poor to mediocre main plot you can pretty much safely ignore. If you go into a Bethesda game expecting any more than this, you are lying to yourself. We know what they do, so when we see bad writing, it isn’t surprising in the least.

        For the record though, I am not defending Bethesda. I will eagerly criticize their bad stories until either I die or they fix them. Still, expectations do play a role.

        1. aldowyn says:

          I wish to point out the difference between plot and writing. The main plot of Mass Effect, and most Bioware games in general, is rarely unique. It’s usually just competent use of fairly good cliches. (and when they broke the cliches, people got mad. See ME3 ending or DA2)

          Their real strength is in character writing – they almost undeniably have some of the most recognized, loved characters in gaming. Wrex, Garrus, Tali, Mordin, Legion… the list goes on and on. (And that’s just Mass Effect. I assume all the rest of their games are the same way – the ones I’ve played are)

          Most of ME2’s biggest failures in particular come from them forcing their writing to comply with the main plot i.e. Cerberus.

          Like Shamus said infamously in one of his comics, in heaven, the dialogue is written by Bioware. In hell, the dialogue is ALSO written by Bioware.

          1. ehlijen says:

            And by ‘broke the clichees’ you mean ‘so hamfistedly forced them it hurt’, right?

            I’m geniunely asking, because at first I read it as ‘broke from the mould by not using clichees’ which I don’t see in those games.

            1. aldowyn says:

              no, I mean didn’t use them. Cerberus isn’t consistent at all, the starchild is just straight up DUMB and completely changes the tone of the main antagonist of the series, etc. etc. It’s all the BAD things that you’re NOT supposed to do. Like ‘villain sue’ is an inherently negative thing, and Cerberus somehow manages to fail everything and supposedly be able to do everything at the same time…

              And DA2 just totally dropped any pretense of ‘saving the world’ and ended up with you essentially turning into the first citizen of Kirkwall. It dumped you into politics, religion and philosophy instead of just a clean generic heroic story.

          2. lurkey says:

            While I agree that there are a lot of people who disliked DA2 for not being epic cliched story of yet another world saviour and ME3 for unhappy ending, there are also a lot of people who disliked them for being, you know, stupid. Like, say, the SW crew. And majority of the commenters in ME3 SW threads.

          3. somebodys_kid says:

            That’s my favorite comic on the internet, by the way.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          When it comes to bioware,I like to point people to neverwinter nights 1.It perfectly encapsulates the best and the worst in the company.Such a stupendously boring main story,coupled with incredibly immersive side characters stories,and a pretty solid gameplay.Which is why mass effect 2 didnt surprise me that much(though it still managed to piss me off,fuck you ashley!).Bioware was always oscillating like that.But people keep forgetting their downs,and focus only on their ups.

          1. StashAugustine says:

            It’s funny how now people bash Bioware going back to KoTOR now that they shot themselves in the foot with ME3/DA2.
            EDIT: And yeah, I’d call NWN one of their worst efforts. I only got in about 4-6 hours before giving up.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              I always harped on nwn,way before me was conceived.And es,my first playthrough was about the same.But the second time,I started talking with the henchmen,and then slogged through the main game just so I could get more of their backstories.

            2. Wedge says:

              I also got bored and gave up on NWN’s main story. As I recall, though, NWN’s real draw was the user-created modules and the fact that it had multiplayer and a DM mode, so it could be run like a pen-and-paper RPG. I know people who got a lot of mileage out of that.

              1. StashAugustine says:

                I’d heard some stuff about that. It’s a great idea, and might salvage the game for some, but it’s a little useless about 10 years after it came out.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  I think there are people making those modes still.

                  And hordes of the underdark is still worth playing,even now.

          2. Dasick says:

            “solid gameplay”

            I disagree with that statement on the account of heavy dicerolls and lack of depth/strategy. You’re doing well? Duh, you rolled two 20 in a row. Oh, you’re getting your ass kicked? Learn to roll nubcake.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Well,maybe Ive overlooked plenty in that department due to aurora toolset.

              1. Dasick says:

                By gameplay did you mean the potential of NVN being used as digital DnD?

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Well back when I first played nwn,there werent that many different options,so I didnt mind the combat flaws that much.But what I actually liked about it was:
                  Multiple inventory screens,so you can sort them however you want
                  The ability to control your henchmen and summons however you want
                  Multiple quick toolbars so that you can cast/use whatever you want without much fuss
                  Character screen that gave you every info you wanted
                  Verbose log of everything that happened so that you knew what works and what doesnt,and why

                  And really combat wasnt that bad.At least not on higher levels(which is one of the many reasons I still love hordes of the underdark).

                  1. Dasick says:

                    Multiple inventory screens was just vestigial inventory design. The point of “Tetris” inventory is to limit your gear using spatial relationships, but NWN used weight as the primary means of controlling your gear capacity.

                    The combat *was* bad. There were not a lot of tactical decisions the game was asking you to make, for the most part the combat was doing the optimal thing, watching the dicerolls and downing a potion when you’re low on HP. Kinda like a proto-MMO.

                    Well, at least on hardest vanilla NWN. I pretty much quit the game during the orc caves (actII) because it was still easy and boring (Somehow I thought that making the game harder would make it more challenging as opposed to just frustrating for a while)

        3. Zukhramm says:

          I’m not sure I can agree with Bethesda games being “exactly the same”. Between Morrowind and Skyrim their character system has gone through massive changes. And the writing in Morrowind is not something I remember as bad, and it managed to get me interested in ways neither Oblivion or Skyrim managed to do.

  11. McNutcase says:

    That was quite a mild injunction to “Stop shooting me” by later standards. Barely a hint of the memetic mutation to come.

    And frankly, that run-from-the-Brotherhood-of-Steel sequence almost needs… well, the closest thing Kevin MacLeod can supply to Yakety Sax, I guess.

    1. carrigon says:

      I second Yakety Sax MacLeod style!

  12. newdarkcloud says:

    I know you finished this season ages ago, but I feel compelled to point this out even though the odds are you already know it.

    You never ever have to do the Galaxy News Radio quest line. On my first play-through, I stumbled into Doctor Li on accident when traveling the wastes, never touched Three Dog, and went right to the purifier. In fact, if you that Dad is in Smith Casey’s garage with magical foreknowledge, you can skip the whole first act and head right there. The game does not punish you for it.

    In fact, should you do this and then meet Three Dog, he will give you the quest, except this time your reward will the key and location to a weapons cache. If you are meta-gaming, it is preferable to skip Three Dog entirely just to get to the cache. (It has nothing unique in it, but it’s better than nothing.)

    Something you guys might find interesting.

    1. aldowyn says:

      is there any way to know that’s an option ahead of time and thus reasonably do that on the first playthrough?

      I know when I play FO3 I usually go through the main story too early, hit three dog, and promptly die repeatedly on the Mall.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I don’t think there is a way to skip this part without a combination of magical foreknowledge, aimless exploration, and/or luck. The game does assume that you’ll go through GNR to Rivet City and then to the purify and Smith Casey’s Garage.

        It’s just interesting to note that you could skip practically all of it and get rewarded for doing so..

        1. That’s kind of funny, compared to New Vegas. I think just about every quest I blundered into without being told to go to X or Y location in the Mojave wound up with me doing something that prevented me from getting the maximum payoff. For example, I stumbled upon the BoS hidden bunker before I ever met Veronica or House, and wound up helping to replace the Elder with some jerk who was passing out XP cookies and what have you.

          I do give Bethesda credit on this open-world style. If nothing else, it’s fun to just wander and see what’s tucked away in various parts of the wasteland.

      2. Zerotime says:

        On my first playthrough I managed to find Dad in Smith Casey’s Garage before I’d even met Three Dog. Then, panicked that I’d somehow broken the game, I reloaded it from an earlier save and did things in the accepted order.

    2. McNutcase says:

      the other reason to skip him being he gives you the key. When you gain XP from lockpicking, being given the key to a lock you can pick is a slap in the face – that’s progress you missed out on, because the number of pickable locks is finite!

      Even though the supply of killable things isn’t finite, and you’ll reach the level cap easily, since all XP is exactly the same.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      However there is a difference between the game offering you an alternate way to find out about a plot thread,and you finding it with out of character knowledge.

      1. ehlijen says:

        Yeah, but if, in good roleplaying game tradition, you do all the side quests first (it’s sad how CRPGs have taught a generation of players to do quests in order from least important to most critical to world survival), you will be sent to Rivet City by Moira fairly early and like as not run into Dr Li withtout even trying to break the main quest.

      2. MrGuy says:

        Yeah, so I sort of liked this being possible.

        The goal of the first act is “Find your Dad.” Three Dog is the only lead you have (and even then only if you found Megaton, which some people didn’t). It’s harder without guides, but if you think about it it SHOULD be possible – if it wasn’t, we’d have the opposite complaint about the “magic plot door” on Smith Casey’s garage that “your dad is in there, but you can’t get in to see him if you haven’t run everyone’s errands.”

        On my playthrough, I found Megaton, and knew I wanted to get into DC. I didn’t realize DC was completely walled off except by subway – in the subway station you’re “supposed” to enter, there’s no way to the actual platform (the “correct” road is behind a door). So I tried circling the city, looking for a way in above ground. I arbitrarily circled south, and stumbled into Rivet City, and picked up a clue to my Dad’s whereabouts.

        Though I decided to do the Rivet City quests, and found the Arlington metro which is a pretty good way to the heart of the city including GNR, and realized Three Dog didn’t know anything I didn’t at that point.

    4. Deadfast says:

      In fact, if you [know] that Dad is in Smith Casey's garage with magical foreknowledge, you can skip the whole first act and head right there. The game does not punish you for it.

      You don’t even need magical foreknowledge, you can stumble upon him by a complete accident and oh boy, does the game punish you then. In fact, that’s exactly what happened to me the first time I played the game. Thanks Fallout 3, I’ll be sure to not do any more exploring in case I inadvertently trigger the ending by crawling into a random cave.

      1. MrGuy says:

        I seem to recall this being possible in the older games as well.

        If you happened to know what magic square Necropolis was under, you could walk right up and get the water chip without having to wander to Shady Sands, the Boneyard, etc. on the way. Similarly for Mariposa.

        Granted, if you were too low a level you might not SURVIVE getting to some “late game” places early, but it was possible.

        I think the real difference is the degree to which Fallout 3 rewards and encurages exploration makes it more LIKELY in those games to encounter later-game areas early. In Fallout 1, randomly wandering the wastes took a LONG time and was largely unrewarding – just a long string of random encounters until you lucked on to the very rare city. (Plus, the early game’s on a timer if you haven’t found the water chip).

        Fallout 3 has tons of places to find, and actively rewards you (Exp, fast travel points, cool encounters) for wandering around to see what you find. This is a core game mechanic, and one I generally liked.

        1. Deadfast says:

          The problem with Fallout 3 is that thanks to enemies scaling to your level the garage is accessible just as well on level 5 as it is on level 25. And as you said, exploration is actively encouraged, I enjoyed that as well. I did not, however, enjoyed being sucked into the end-game by accident.

  13. Vagrant says:

    “That was one of the more absurd things I’ve done in this game.”
    That did not stay true for very long did it? Today cuftbert was born. Again. I guess.

    1. Nick says:

      Man, if only he could find some sort of heavy object to drag around as a symbol of his emotional baggage. They should put something like that into the game.

      1. Indy says:

        Maybe a satellite disc of some sort might fit that bill.

      2. newdarkcloud says:

        Maybe a 15 lbs. “Lucky Rock”

  14. StashAugustine says:

    Would just like to point out that I’m replaying Deus Ex, and have begun to drag around a spare flamer as long as possible.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      For whatever reason, I once lugged a flamethrower (without any skill in heavy weapons) around for a third of the game, just so that I could use it on those two drug pushers in Hong Kong. “You make big mixtake home-boy” indeed.

      And then I threw their bodies into the canal, because that’s what everybody does.

      1. ehlijen says:

        I dragged a flamer through the last two fights of Vampire: Bloodlines without using it because a) I didn’t know I could replenish ammo in between the tentacle monster and the venture tower and b) I didn’t realise the sherrif was the final boss; I’d assumed Lacroix was to be yet another fight.

        Though, granted, that game had no weight limit and you’d never need all what was it, 8 gunslots? Or 7?

  15. ehlijen says:

    I actually think that Bethesda tried to do some subverting of the 50s theme. There is the song selection on GNR which includes ‘Slasher Pete’. And then there is Tranquility lane, the closest thing to the actual 50s for any ingame characters and you’re meant to ‘free them from the eternal nightmare’.

    The era’s communism phobia was also addressed when Liberty Prime attacks the Enclave with anti communism catchphrases.

    And even the cars exploding at the drop of a hat I like to think was a nod to how mistaken the believe in atomic power being the future was.

    No, I still don’t think they made Fallout 3 as good as 1 and 2 were (each in their own way, those were quite different in tone), but I don’t think they didn’t realise how to try.

  16. fish food carl says:

    Not related to the video, but you should probably note that you can only get to the new, non-fat, turbotuned, Youtubified Spoiler Warning via the “Spoiler Warning” list in Categories.

    The actual Spoiler Warning archive with the pretty artwork, divided by season instead of post date, only goes up to Mass Effect Episode 8, and Walking Dead Episode 4. And it links back to the Ancient Tymes of Auld (2010) for Fallout 3.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I believe this to be a not-so-subtle way of trying to remind Shamus to update the Spoiler Warning page, but I am not sure. XD

      1. fish food carl says:

        No, it definitely is. I wasn’t even going for subtlety there, I don’t know how that got mixed in.

        But, yeah. Spoiler Warning page needs to catch up.

  17. StranaMente says:

    I think that what you said is among the reasons why I never liked Fallout 3 and despite that, enjoyed New Vegas. There are some other problems with the game that prevent me from fully appreciating it as fallout sequels, but overall in itself, it was a fun game.

    p.s.: Shamus, the 11th of january I sent you a mail with a link to download a game (the sea will claim everything), I was wandering if that ended up in the spam folder.

  18. Mechakisc says:

    I’m pretty sure I’m totally alone whenever I post something like this anywhere but NMA …

    When I heard that Bethesda was taking over Fallout, I did all the “do not want” memes one after the other. Every one of them. NOPE NOPE NOPE, DO NOT WANT, “Not like this. Not like this”, etc etc. I could have told you from the moment I first tried Daggerfall that Bethesda is not the group to make Fallout, and that it doesn’t play to their strengths.

    At one point during the development process, I grew some hope, because I kind of internet knew two guys that got to work on it, and they’re two guys who get it. I MENTIONED these guys on NMA, and they got in trouble at Bethesda, which to me is the worst possible sign. I mean, there’s no way they were going to satisfy NMA, those guys are the /b/ of Fallout (were? I haven’t been back since that day), but Bethesda management’s reaction to my gaff was … just really over the top and scary. At least one of the guys doesn’t work there anymore, and I hope this paragraph is too vague to mean anything to anyone, but the experience really colored my opinion of Bethesda, which was none too positive to begin with.

    Bethesda had no interest in using the Van Buren material whatsoever, and did not so much as reach out to Chris Avellone. I played FO3 for a few minutes, and I couldn’t keep going, because it was exactly the same as Oblivion in all the ways that put a knife in my heart.

    New Vegas came out and Chris was involved of course, and by all accounts it was way better, and by then I just couldn’t let them hurt me again.

    Also, to this day, I hate the people behind Titus Software so much it burns.

    1. Dasick says:

      I hear game developers (or rather, their bosses and publishers) are crazy paranoid about saying anything about their product. Stuff leaking out, rather than being presented by the marketing and either setting up unrealistic expectations or turning people off.

    2. krellen says:

      I continually damped the enthusiasm of my buddy who was also into Fallout when news of FO3 came out. Kept telling him that Bethesda was not one of the “good guys” and not the right company to be doing this.

      He poo-pooed me for a long time, but in the end acknowledged that I was right all along.

      (And despite many appearances, I am neither a NMAer nor an RPGCodexer.)

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      This is almost counter to my story. I saw Fallout 3 as “Oblivion with guns” and I was completely on board with that since I had never played Fallout 1 or 2. Then I got New Vegas and fell in love again.

      After that, I eventually got to play Fallout 1 and 2. I don’t love those games as much as New Vegas, but I see why other’s do.

    4. Deadpool says:

      What does the Titus Software thing have to do with the rest of the story?

      1. Dasick says:

        Bought out and disbanded Interplay, developers of Fallout 3 (the cancelled Van Buren project, not the Bethesda version)

  19. Adam says:

    So, fellow SW viewers, what should Kevin MaCleod’s title be this week?

  20. Kdansky says:

    I literally stopped playing the game completely just shortly after the dialog with Three Dog, because that dialog was so horrible, it shattered my immersion to atom-sized bits, and I could not recover.

    @Shamus: Please add a “for=checkbox” tag to your spammer-confirm, so that we can click the label too.

  21. Phantom Hoover says:

    “When Bethesda makes a new Elder Scrolls game, they roll the calendar forward a couple of centuries to find an open spot in the lore where they'll have room to work.”

    Skyrim is actually the only one that did this: the previous 4 games all took place over the span of a few decades.

    1. Dasick says:

      Skyrim is the only game where Uriel Septim is not a prominent driving plot force, or at least a cause.

  22. Deltarno says:

    Well, since I love making people roll SAN checks, the voice actor of Three-Dog did tweet hints that he would be helping with Fallout 4.
    Now roll those dice!

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