Fallout 3 EP15: The Cure, and Heavy Metal

By Shamus Posted Monday Feb 18, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 58 comments

Link (YouTube)

Back in my review of Rage, I talked about editing dialog down to the essentials. Ideally your dialog should always be delivering characterization, exposition, foreshadowing, establishing of goals, illuminating relationships between characters, and expressing the characters worldview or ideology. You can’t do all of those things at the same time, but doing only one makes for really bland dialog. Consider our exchange with Midea:

Alright, we can talk now but we shouldn’t take too long. They saw you come in here, so they’ll come looking for you if you take too long.

This went from a writer to a directer to a voice actor, and nobody thought to tighten it up a little? How does she know what the guards have seen and how they’ll respond? (Considering that you can either sneak, murder, or walk here.)

This is not a character. This is an exposition device and a questgiver. She knows all the things that the writers want you to know and has all the goals the writers want you to have. She’s a living textbox.

Compare her to the guarded suspicion of Aradesh, the naive exuberance of Tandi, the dim-witted false swagger of Butch Harris, or the simple and direct idealism of Killian Darkwater. We have several introductory conversations with Midea where she doesn’t seem to have any urgent needs, or ideals, or goals. She’s just another bland plastic-faced NPC. Her personality boils down to “friendly”, because she’s on your side.

Yes, she becomes slightly less 1-dimensional later, but this is a really terrible introduction.


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58 thoughts on “Fallout 3 EP15: The Cure, and Heavy Metal

  1. MrGamer says:

    Oh, my Tandi

    “I can think of a way for you to repay me”

    “Ah, I think I need to be elsewhere”

    Oh how I enjoyed that exchange.

  2. hborrgg says:

    “In this Back in my review of Rage.”
    Something something glass houses something.

  3. Tvtim says:

    “doesn’t know if ‘commentating’ is a real word”

    Hows about…commentering?

    yea, yea, that was bad, I admit

  4. hborrgg says:

    So I started playing Skyrim again the other day with a “realistic needs” mod installed and I think I’ve finally started to remember just what the deal was with this game.
    A lot of you probably remember the different takes on the intro given by both Shamus and the Extra Credits guys, pretty much everything said in those was completely true seems to sum up the entire game. Everywhere you look is this weird mix of brilliant and amazing, yet face-palmingly stupid or even downright embarrassing. You have gorgeous visuals right next to extremely blurry or stretched terrain textures. There is engaging and funny dialog constantly broken up by awkward pauses. There are great animations that play out, right after all the actors have hovered into position (during what is essentially a cut-scene no less). There is the sleek and minimalist UI that takes forever to load and inexplicably starts all of its lists at the very bottom of the screen. Even role-playing, whenever I attempted it, had a tendency to somehow succeed and fail miserably both at the exact same time.

    Skyrim, for many I think, did an admirable job and had no problems sucking the player in, but once you step back and really take a critical look at all of the problems, you really don’t want to admit that it did.

    1. hborrgg says:

      Hrmm. This was a lot more on topic in my head.

    2. modus0 says:

      If you haven’t installed the SkyUI mod, do so now. It replaces the console-based menu UI with one that is far, far better for a PC.


      1. GM says:

        First Mod installed.

  5. MrGuy says:

    I also like the focus on “taking too long” being the thing that makes people suspicious, especially if you played through like Josh did.

    “Hey, guys! Remember that new slave? The one that didn’t seem to behave in any way like any of the other slaves? The one that killed all our friends at the gate? The one that was carrying enough ordinance to blow up half the town? The one that had that magical palsy attack when we beat him up with sticks? The one whose stuff we took and put in a locker because the boss said that he’s special and we should treat him differently? The one we apparently haven’t given a second though to since?

    Well, you’re not going to believe it, but he’s TALKING TO MEDEA. And they’ve been talking for, like, 5 or 6 sentences now. I’m starting to think there’s something off about that slave…”

    1. James says:

      i like to think of it like this

      Yo guys remember that guy who killed everyone outside, has a wide range and large enough weaponry to kill just about everyone here.

      Experimental technology that renders him invisible, a guy known for blowing up a town

      well we put all his shit in a box, after beating him with sticks, then we pissed him of by making him a slave, and forcing him to, A; Find Steel Ingots that magically weigh 1 pound, B; Made him “fight for his freedom” in an arena, and then after letting him find more weapons then a slave would need (see more then none), C; Gave him all his old stuff back ALL OF IT, including is magic stealth suit and pants grenades, D; asked him to visit the illustrious leader, going past all the people who robbed him in the first place.

      This can only go Well*

      *in that everyone dies and SPOILERS a baby gets kidnapped

  6. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    So the lesson here is that -much like how in fantasy everyone dresses like an idiot, in Fallout, everyone acts like an idiot.

    Reggie gets beaten down for no reason, and the Ashur asks him to come up for coffee with his whole arsenal returned.

    Can’t imagine that one going sideways.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      Cuftbert-assisted suicide. It’s pretty popular around these parts.

      1. Nytzschy says:

        It should be noted that Cuftbert-assisted suicide is distinct from “suicide by Cuftbert.” The former primarily involves being anything between slightly and massively irritating, while the latter consists of having pockets and being in the same postal code as a ninja wearing a summer bonnet.

    2. It’s an RPG trope. “You look to be a hale and hearty [OCCUPATION/RACE/NATIONALITY]. You’ve proven your [SKILL, WORTH, RELIABILITY, VALOR]. I shall now [GIVE YOU A QUEST/JOIN YOUR CAUSE/LET YOU GO FREE].”

      I’m trying to imagine a more realistic plot that requires you to earn someone’s respect within a longer time frame (other than by just waiting) that players would tolerate. Without making that trust most of the game, I’m not sure what they could do apart from having the person predisposed to you in the first place.

      1. Syal says:

        Maybe you could join a work force with a stand-offish leader and have to talk to all his other employees, find out what he values in a person and then find a good way to display that. Like, he likes creativity so you kill an artist and steal his paintings to show off.

  7. Jokerman says:

    So, Medea says something to the effect of “I was told yuo were intelligent” Is she in contact with Werner then? Since before you got there he was able to give her this message?

    1. Indy says:

      No, the writers told her, obviously.

      1. Jokerman says:

        I know….i was just hopeful that there might be something in there to explain that….

  8. Klay F. says:

    Its funny that you mention Killian. I was thinking the other day how similar Sheriff Meyers was to him.

    1. Not really. Killian is all about gathering evidence before he starts unloading into someone. Meyers… not so much.

      1. Jace911 says:

        This. Killian is way more neutral on the “Dirty Harry” spectrum; even when presented with an obviously corrupt and amoral scumbag like Gizmo, instead of just walking into his den and blowing his head off he goes through the trouble of hiring someone to bug the man’s office so he can get evidence of his misdeeds.

        In the wasteland.

        Where there is no law.

        Whereas Sheriff Meyers is more “so and so said you’re selling jet behind the alley on Saturday mornings. BANG”

        1. Klay F. says:

          Meyers was never against gathering evidence. What Meyers hated was the bureaucracy of the NCR’s judicial system, him and Killian are the Fallout versions of Garrus. Big difference.

          1. Jace911 says:

            If Meyers only hated bureaucracy and not investigation, then why does his ending slide in New Vegas say that he has a habit of summarily executing citizens without providing evidence of their crimes? I thought the writers made it pretty clear that he was a loose cannon, much more so than Killian.

            1. Klay F. says:

              The ending also says that he treats with people fairly. One sentence basically directly contradicts the sentence before it. Most likely, Obsidian never realized the contradiction. Its basically up to which sentence you believe.

  9. Mechakisc says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I won’t be able to resist saying it again:

    NMA was right all along.


  10. Jokerman says:

    What Shamus said about the area trope is still going bethesda has not done it in fallout 3 or Skyrim and Bioware didn’t in the Mass effect trilogy or Dragon Age 2.

    I find this kind of sad, predictable trope it was…but i always enjoyed it, invoked memories of gladiator and an old ps2 game called Shadow of Rome.

    1. anaphysik says:

      Mass Effect 1 had the paid DLC Pinnacle Station, which is an arena. Now, why anyone would actually buy that, I don’t know, but apparently people did :/

      1. Jokerman says:

        Yea i skipped that one, didn’t really sound like an arena from what i read, sounded more like VR shooting gallery type stuff than the normal arena trope.

      2. Indy says:

        Maybe if you liked the gunplay or liked the situational gunplay of the arena. I bought it… There’s an in-game house as a prize, though. So roleplay has an aspect to it, after the fact of course.

        It does however have the ‘safeties off’ trope. So, that’s a plus, right?

    2. Viktor says:

      I don’t really object to an arena section either, especially if effort is made to make it make sense(not to the death, you have an actual reason to be there, not required). It’s basically show up, fight a variety of enemies, minimal plot. Not what I’m playing RPGs for, but if I’m playing through an RPG and am in a bad mood, it’s a good way to blow off steam.

  11. Din Adn says:

    The whole ‘get captured in a stupid, unsatisfying way to move the plot forward’ thing is the reason I am still wanted dead or alive in Markarth.

    …well, it’s the original reason. The pile of bodies afterwards made me somewhat less inclined to protest my innocence. In the end I think they were probably justified in not wanting me around any more.

    1. Viktor says:

      You realize you can actually win that fight, right? IIRC I killed the guards and got a “all witnesses have died” message.

  12. anaphysik says:

    Hmmm, I notice that Reggiebert is having no trouble MURDERRRRRing enemies marked as “Trog Fledgling.” Does this imply that you could get revenge upon Mayor MacCready by luring him to The Pitt…?

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Man that cutscene capture was bad.And the worst thing is that the fix is really easy:Give the guards some insta-stun weapons that you need to disable as a part of a quest before freeing the slaves.For example,give them super charged batons that have a special charging machine that you need to destroy.That way,you cam just stun the player without a cutscene,and youll eliminate the way for the player to get their hands on such a weapon.Or you can give them such a weapon,but only with a very limited ammo.For example,a stun rifle with just 10 darts.

    1. Indy says:

      Or introduce a mega-sniper with a tranq rifle as an antagonist. You could even say he has a really good eye for new people or distortions in the air. And as the story goes on, you either win him to whatever side you choose or kill him.

    2. anaphysik says:

      Or just not have such a forced scene, and allow sneaking in, talking your way in, fighting your way in, and voluntarily being captured (with some sort of backup plan to get your stuff back) to be legitimate approaches <_<

      1. Indy says:

        That’s a given. But accepting that you had to be captured and reset, how would you go about it without pissing off the players?

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well yes of course,but that requires some actual effort,lots of balancing,etc.I was merely proposing a quick fix for this “get captured so that everyone will start the dlc in the same way”.

        1. anaphysik says:

          And I’m saying that no ‘quick fix’ will solve systemically bad design. All any such fix could ever do is /muddle/ the badness, not actually fix it.

          A perfume (ignoring the fact that many perfumes are pure affronts to the olfactories) will never be an antiperspirant :/

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            But there is nothing inherently wrong with getting captured trope,or starting the dlc in just one way.Old world blues uses both,but it utilizes them in a much better way.You getting captured leads to funny stuff,and even can improve your dialogue.Here you getting captured leads to nothing.

            But even in cases that are inherently bad(like karma)quick fixes(using it only a couple of times)are still better than nothing at all.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              And even can improve your character.Not dialogue.

              Damn these edit things disappearing when I need them.

              1. Thomas says:

                Maybe you ask the player to do it on purpose? Or give him some small reward for skill, like talking into keeping your armour, or if you put up enough of a fight you get a perk. Then the player will have the good feeling of having beaten a trap which might soften the blow of having to get captured

                1. Thomas says:

                  Or if there hadn’t been dialogue it would have been a bit better. If you just walked, heard a shot and cut to black it would have felt less like cutscene superpowers

                  1. Ciennas says:

                    Or those plot grenades that Autumn uses in the main game. It’s cheap, but they are established as existing. Have someone mention that that was the last box or something.

                    Of course, they still could have just moved the damn factory- take it bit by bit somewhere less critically toxic. Anywhere else, really.

                    You’re already enslaving people that you swear you’ll release- might as well motivate them with a paradise elsewhere.

  14. Spammy says:

    Much like all their speculation on Mass Effect 2 during the Mass Effect 1 season became retrospectively funny, so does all their speculation about Fallout New Vegas.

    It’s still better than 3.

  15. Weimer says:

    Man, this episode was suprisingly easy from the drinking game standpoint.

    Maybe the imminent baby-STEELing did something to contribute.

    1. MrGuy says:

      By the way, how does the drinking game not have rules for “Josh kidnaps a baby”?

      1. Weimer says:

        I agree, a valid category could be “Josh does something outrageous and/or stupid.”

        Although it would be a bitch to list every single second of Spoiler Warning ever.

        1. Spammy says:

          More like, Josh starts recording an episode, take a drink.

    2. Thomas says:

      I’m terribly disappointed by the fall off since Anchorage, I demand more bodies

  16. Fang says:

    Not knocking… but did the episodes always look this bad? I mean maybe my memory is spotty but they didn’t look this bad.

    1. Kavonde says:

      Up until the crew switched to YouTube, the video hosting service they were using only supported up to 480p. Plus, I’m pretty sure Josh has upgraded his computer over time.

      And, of course, it doesn’t help that Fallout 3 itself is an ugly mess of brown and gray.

      1. Ciennas says:

        And green. Don’t forget the nasty eyesore green filter.

        Even if I can’t see at night, Fellout was a trippy and totally worthwhile download, if only to get rid of all that green…

        On a related note, how do I set it so that I can freaking see at night? Anybody?

        1. Wedge says:

          You can use the pip-boy light, although it doesn’t help much. Fallout: NV has cateye, but Fallout 3 doesn’t. There’s probably some mods you can use that give you a better flashlight than the pip-boy light.

          1. WJS says:

            I’m pretty sure you can get nightvision in FO3, even if only by way of mods.

  17. sofawall says:

    That title is worthy of Rutskarn.

  18. Deadpool says:

    Interesting tidbit:

    Intelligent Deathclaws were an Enclave experiment. Hence the other ones all being crazy.

    Fallout 1 happens 80 years after the war. Too old to tell if Ghouls are ageless, but Necropolis’ door NEVER shut, which is what turned its inhabitants into Ghouls.

    A lot of them still alive when Fallout begins, making a lot of them 80-100…

  19. WJS says:

    Oh god, that cutscene capture. I don’t think I could take that, I don’t care how good the rest of it is. That right there is worse than Operation Anchorage, which at least had a reason to be on rails. There’s a parallel there, in fact; you criticised OA for being built for a small gun user and saying fuck you to other builds? Well this right here is a massive fuck-you to anyone who prefers the direct approach. You could have been wearing fucking power armour for all the game knows, and a couple of guys with sticks beat you? Never mind the fact that you’re primarily a melee character! If not for cutscene, all of those guys would be dead before he finished talking!
    Oh, and then they decide that you should be a combat monster for this DLC after all. Nice. You have to sneak your way in, then you have to fight in an arena.
    It wouldn’t be quite so bad if you couldn’t fight your way in, rather than being able to and then getting insta-captured. Like, we already established that there’s a river. How about instead of a bridge, there’s a cablecar, so you have to sneak in with a bunch of slaves. It’s still a railroad (if you can call cables rails), but at least it’s not a stupid railroad. Of course, if you also want to force the player to leave their gear behind you run into the problem of “Wait, I can’t see all that stuff I’m carrying, how can he?” when the guard searches you. Oh, and it would also be a good vehicle for a big establishing shot of the facility, which you guys said looks pretty cool when you’re not forced to stare at your feet.

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