Fallout 3 EP24: Let the Good Times Roll

 By Shamus Mar 24, 2013 47 comments

There’s an episode of MST3K that covers the movie Lost Continent. The target movie features about ten thousand hours of rock climbing and nine seconds of stop-motion dinosaurs. (Horribly, this grueling bit of cinema is “generally considered to be one of the best in the 40-year-plus career of director Sam Newfield.” So that’s terrifying. What were his other films? Slow-motion footage featuring waterfalls of raw sewage?) You could tell it was almost an endurance test for the MST3K crew, and as the episode went on they would just say “rock climbing” to describe how they were feeling.

Among my gaming group we adopted this saying for times when something really boring – a story, movie, game, me talking – would go on for far too long and become a test of will. I’m also fond of saying, “From the people who brought you that last stuff, it’s… more of the same!”. But only on special occasions.

I wanted to say “rock climbing” all during this episode. This really is starting to feel like rock climbing in the “Caesar Romero climbing Styrofoam rocks for an hour ten” sense of the word. The nonsense plot. Our endless bitching. The relentless brownness. Our whining. The glitches. Our bellyaching. The railroading. Our nitpicking.

So anyway. Slip on your wing-tipped climbing shoes and enjoy this punishing desecration of the Fallout name:


Link (YouTube)

Rock climbing, Josh. Rock climbing.

EDIT: Today’s amusing bit of dramatic irony appears in the original posting of this episode (drink!) where I claimed that, “If it’s of any comfort, we’ll have nicer things to say about the next game.” Ha. Haha. Oh, Shamus-of-2010, your optimism sickens me.


20207Feeling chatty? There are 47 comments.


  1. You did have nicer things to say about it, didn’t you?

    • wheals says:

      By “next game,” presumably he means the next game SW covered, which was Bioshock.

      I never watched that season, but from what I hear they did not have nicer things to say about it.

      • Hitchmeister says:

        They started out wanting to say nice things about Bioshock, but by about a third of the way in, they realized there was a lot to hate about that game. And the last third of the game (after a crucial high point) was absolutely terrible and tainted anything good that had come before.

        • SKD says:

          It’s not so much that there is a lot to hate about the game, but more that sitting back and leisurely discussing the game while someone else plays tends to reveal all the problems you generally overlook while playing the game yourself. Even a game as much loved by the crew as Half-Life 2 didn’t fare too well once it got the Spoiler Warning treatment.

          • Thomas says:

            Except for the last third of Bioshock. As they said, everyone tends to wipe that from their memories, I saw it happen just the other day when someone talked about the amazing twist at the ‘end’ of Bioshock

    • Jokerman says:

      I thought that referred to Fallout NV at first too

  2. Ciennas says:

    I honestly wonder if we’re going to see Autumn in Fallout 4. He really should have been in Broken Steel if you hadn’t murdered him.

    (With a name like Broken Steel, we should have seen a much deeper plot- maybe a schism or civil war between the two brotherhood factions, with the enclave providing a third front.)

    (Also also, who wrote all the plots anyway? Was it a comittee or one guy?)

    • bmcc says:

      FO3′s lead writer was Emil Pagliarulo, who did respectable work on “Thief 2″ and the Dark Brotherhood quests in “Oblivion,” making FO3′s incoherence all the odder. In a Gamasutra interview, Pagliarulo claims to have written the main quest himself (so presumably we can blame him for Little Lamplight), and to have outlined the sidequest plots for the other designers (see http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132169/revitalizing_a_heritage_the_.php?print=1 ).

      • Ciennas says:

        Huh. Well then, that nixes my suggestion for how to improve things for next time.

        Unless there was a layer of fudging between his ‘writing the theme of all the missions’ (which I assume means he wrote most of everything,) and ‘implementing the finished product’, then a lot of this is his fault. The logical inconsistencies and such.

        I will say though, some of it sounds more like misimplemented or crucially unmentioned, rather than a complete failure. The story would still work as it stands, with just a couple of extra lines somewhere, and a rewrite or two.

        (The biggest extra would be giving a compelling reason for the water to still be radioactive, instead of the soil. I had always assumed there was a couple of undetonated warheads or spent fuel containment barrels somewhere nobody expected them to be.)

    • Eric says:

      I kind of just hope there is no Fallout 4 if Bethesda is going to make it.

      • Ciennas says:

        That’s… really harsh. Surely they’re not that bad.

        I feel like they just need a little more polish on their scripts to make a very good game.

        Why would Bethesda’s name alone put you off from having a good time?

  3. Otters34 says:

    “You’re no better than the mutie scum!”

    You know, when Frank Horrigan called you a mutie, it was because he was a bad guy.

    Do it Reginald, set the water on fire! BURN IT ALL!!

  4. As for what happened to James, well… let me just toss out another one of my…

    Great ideas for a Fallout New Vegas mod I haven’t the time or knowhow to do.

    What happened to James? It looked like he fell over dead after being overwhelmed by radiation. What really happened? He woke up on top of a pile of dumped super mutant corpses, and started his new life as a ghoul.

    Though not quite himself, he was still a scientist. Now, he was an immortal scientist! But his reputation in the Capital Wasteland was questionable, so he struck out West in search of new ways to “help” humanity. Once he arrived in the Mojave, he was a changed man, even more so than before.

    The blasted tracts of radioactive land, the pollution from decaying civilization, the bloody conflict over what little remained of habitable soil… Perhaps the pre-war creators of the FEV were right, or at least, they were right today. Super mutants weren’t the solution. But perhaps ghouls were.

    Enter the man known only in hushed whispers as “Doctor Glow.” He’s not feral, though he’s as luminescent as Jason Bright, and as mad as a tea party full of hatters to most who ever hear of his plans. Word is, he’s built a sanctuary for ghouls at an old missile base that’s too toxic for the likes of men to stay at for long. There, old and new advances in bioengineering and environmental adaptation are taking place, and some of them are getting loose. What’s worse, a slaver lord claims to be working for Glow, shipping some of his slaves to the base and some off to yet another location called “The Farm.” There, breeding to keep humanity alive as a species is going on (since being turned into a ghoul sterilizes humans), with ghouls running the infrastructure of the camp, though a few see this as a place they can get revenge on the smoothskins for years of oppression. And Doctor Glow himself is said to be using his own body for experimentation, and the results are… striking.

    Can you stop Doctor Glow before he becomes even more of a threat than the Master? Can you find the hidden, unopened vaults he seeks before he does and save the Mojave from being turned into his vision of an immortal ghoul race compatible with the worst places on earth, with humans kept as nothing more than breeding stock?

    If someone else mods it, sure. My thought was that James could be more easily re-created in dialog form (to some humorous effect, too) by using his F3 dialog files along with clips from his many movie roles. Just a very long-winded thought.

    • Make him think the Courier is his son. And have him go on about how “You where such a good girl growing up.” and “You went along with my last plan why not this one?”. Also make it so that he will believe lies about how “No i did not blow up that part of your base nope.”

    • MrGuy says:

      Actually, Dad was recovered along with Col. Autumn from the purifier by the enclave. Just like Anna Holt, as a scientist seeing all the amazing tech the Enclave, he had the reasonable thought “Hey, maybe I should work with these guys to do amazing stuff.” So he does.

      The only difference between Dad and Anna was that, when you came to Raven Rock, he was working on some dangerous stuff, so he was wearing one of those Enclave Scientist suits with the round helmet. You shot him down like any other Enclave Scientist.

      Or, at least, that’s how I like to think it ended for Dad.

    • Eric says:

      Your ideas are dumb and stupid to the point of absurdity, and I can still take this more seriously than anything Bethesda has made in the last 10 years.

  5. anaphysik says:

    “generally considered to be one of the best in the 40-year-plus career of director Sam Newfield.”

    or iiiiiiis it? hmmm?

    • Bubble181 says:

      Y’know, that Desert Bus Marathon for Good Causes thing is coming along soon, but they seem to be having far too much fun these days. let’s replace it with a Sam Newfield-a-thon :P

    • Dromer says:

      Ironically, Sam Newfield was one of the most prolific directors in the first half of the 20th century. It’s just that all of his movies were horrible schlock.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        Wikipedia says that Lost Continent was shot in eleven days. Given that, and that it re-used footage from a previous film and a later film reused footage from it, Newfield was probably just really good at coming in on or under budget and making back the investment plus some more.

        Now that I think about it, didn’t films used to be kind of a buffet, even into the sixties? You paid to get in and could sit around as long as you liked, so they’d have filler like documentaries and newsreels. So these films were probably just the equivalent of todays made-for-Tv dreck.

  6. Andrew says:

    It is really becoming a slog-fest updating the spreadsheet of drinks. But we are pulling it off quite nicely. If I ever offer to do something like that again please stop me. It was fun at first and looking over the finished product is very nice I do not want to do all that data entry stuff again for quite a while.

    For those of you who do not yet know there is an excel spreadsheet with all the reasons for taking a drink from the official drinking game listed out and made into a chart here for your viewing pleasure.

  7. Chamomile says:

    I think the Fallout 3 plot makes a bit more sense if you assume that the Brotherhood of Steel are exactly as bad as the Enclave. Both of them want to use the purifier to make the territory they effectively own more useful and sustainable. They also want the good PR from being the ones who restored water to the Capital Wasteland, water they don’t need to control because they already have by far the biggest arsenal of anyone except each other. Both of them make up vague propaganda about how letting the other one control the purifier will be nefarious and evil somehow, thus justifying both an attack on them and guaranteeing that if they win, the purifier’s functioning will be attributed entirely to them and not the other side (even if they did half the work).

    • FrontLineCaster says:

      I always read the plot basically that way, but all that does is reinforce everything they said in the episode about wanting to join the Enclave. I respected New Vegas’ decision to allow you to join the Legion but never did it as I felt that sadly they were a far less interesting faction than I had hoped they would be, but I would have taken an option to join the Enclave in Fallout 3 in a heart beat.

      • Adam says:

        That’s more a case of the BoS in 3 being SO MINDBENDINGLY HORRIBLE as an ostensibly allied faction, that the Enclave is more interesting and dynamic (and logical) in comparison.

        The Legion’s problem in NV was that EVERY faction you could align yourself with was a thousand times more detailed and interesting than anyone in 3, so they pale in comparison. The Legion is a more interesting allied faction than either the Fo3 Enclave OR BoS, but not as interesting as the other endgame factions in NV. (Having finished the game independent once, I guarantee that I’ll be disappointed in any game that doesn’t allow me a similar option.)

      • Michael says:

        I did a Legion run… once. Turned out, the only places I could really go to advance my character ended up being the DLC zones, and I finished off the campaign at level 17, IIRC.

        There’s plenty of depth, but once you’ve pitched in with them, there’s nothing to do. Short of using disguises, you can’t really access all the Legion subterfuge missions in NCR territory, and every NCR patrol instantly knows you’re working for the Legion.

  8. Ron says:

    One thing that I really enjoyed about Fallout 1 was that you could side with the Master in the end, if you were roleplaying the kind if character that would. In Fallout 3, instead of joining the Enclave, you are forced to destroy them and then if you want, introduce the modified FEV into the water. Then in Broken Steel, rather than having any other option, you have to help the Brotherhood again. Then, after going through the entire DLC, you get option to destoy the Citadel.

    I fail to understand why, if Bethesda is so against role-playing, why it would give you those options at all. Essentially all of these kinds of choices in the game (the other major one being the bomb in Megaton) allow you to role-play an idiot who would like to destroy two areas of the game and only hurt yourself.

    • Bubble181 says:

      That’s because the authors are arrogant enough to honestly think there are only two options: either you follow “their” story or the foreseen variations thereof, or you’re an idiot.
      See also: Mass Effect 3 ending, and the official updated version. Either you accept “their” vision, or you die and take the whole universe with you.
      These people do not understand true free-roaming, but want to tell “their” story where the player can act a littel bit and wiggel like a worm on a hook, without any real impact.

    • The wildly divergent choices could reflect a case of “too many cooks,” but with games like this that are trying to have some kind of narrative, the temptation to have a fairly contained ending is strong. This isn’t a healthy way to make a video game that’s got role-playing elements.

      The original Fallout ending is a great model, but it also has something else that players might not want: An ending at all. F3 and Skyrim both let you keep playing after the endgame is supposedly over, and this makes an F1 ending rather difficult. I mean, getting a voiceover after you kill the big-bad that among your achievements is that the town of Nicegood eventually prospered into a thriving city is fine, if the game is over. If not, there’s nothing stopping you from causing an in-game paradox by going to Nicegood and mowing down everything that moves.

      I’m not sure how to reconcile the two. I guess NV did by letting you postpone the battle of Hoover Dam indefinitely, though that grates a bit because it’s “urgent” yet it’s not, because we know how the game works. Maybe give the player the choice as to when their game ends and THEN get a voiceover? Hmm…

      As for games like ME3, the other problem is coming up with enough endings to satisfy all of the possible world conditions. You can’t have dead people mentioned as alive, the use of abilities/weapons your character might not have (which is why biotics were seldom seen from Shepard in cutscenes). It’s why villains will dismiss your actions, even major ones (think Mr. House), because there would have to be more resources/work/money allocated to accommodate them.

      I think the more cinematic the ending of an RPG, unless it’s rendered by the engine (allowing for things to be tagged as present based on what you’ve done) and cleverly written to be at least somewhat different, it’s going to be an ME3-style “push the button, Frank” setup.

      • AdamF says:

        I know it would add to complexity, but one way to circumvent some of the problems you mention would be to have the game check the number of individuals still living in town when the player ends the game, along with checking the victory conditions. So if you help Nicegood but then slaughter everyone, you get the following

        “It appeared that the town of Nicegood would prosper due to the actions of player character, but playercharacter underwent a psychotic break and destroyed the town”

  9. Ciennas says:

    So uh, maybe they’ll finally get it in 4.

    I look at 3 as a really good refresher course for the older fans (and an easy opportunity for them to foam at the mouth, as we’ve seen on the site,) while being a pretty good introduction for newer players who might not have gotten to see it back when it was new.

    Maybe they’ll do something cool with it. Better to hope, right?

    My real fear is that they’ll get even more free with the use of essential flags. Nobody liked Maven Black-Briar, she wasn’t essential to diddly squat, and is so obviously evil that it’s repugnant to both morality and sanity (you’re saying I can kill Armegeddon but not some little mob boss wannabe?) Yet we had to tolerate her because… they flagged her as unkillable.

    So, they could and should return to the Morrowind model: screw all ya all’s, I’m taking down the entire continent. I don’t mind the occasional use of an essential tag (companions and escort NPC’s) but they’ve gotten really tight handed about that over the last three games they’ve produced.

    • microwaviblerabbit says:

      I agree about the essential tags, plus in Skyrim it got stupid. Even after the civil war quests are complete, enemy generals (named guys in camps) are essential. Every quest NPC seemed to be essential, everyone at a Jarls court was essential, I ended up adding mods or just using the console to try to fix it so it made sense. Especially Maven.

      Plus, the essential system failed at protecting the NPCs I wanted, ie: shopkeepers. Every dragon attack or vampire attack with dawnguard someone died. How hard is it to understand that when undead lords or giant flying lizards attack, you hide inside?

      I liked Fallout New Vegas because it only had one or two essential people, and even then you could kill them. Yes Man you got the satisfaction of blowing up, and then he jumped to a new body(respawned) when you left the cell. Even with the DLCs the essential tag was used sparingly, if at all. I especially liked the non-aggression field in Old World Blues, cause you knew you would get to turn it off later and have revenge.

      I don’t understand why Bethesda doesn’t use the confiscating weapons mechanic more. It would have been nice in Skyrim, so that when you went to faction headquarters it was less stupid. Oh, I see, no one can just stab Ulfric in the face cause he has 4-8 guards in the city, and 2-3 in the throne room. It’s not like you are some sort of mystical superhuman with demigod powers no mortal can match. All they had to do was have a weapons check, and some magic stuff to protect him from spells. He has a wizard. Then when you progress on his quest line they relax it.

      Or just have him not sitting in the open, and instead hiding or fortified up in his rooms where no one can get to. BS locked doors are better than BS essential status. Plus do what New Vegas did with Caesar, you could kill him, but it was hard since he had a bunch of deadly bodyguards. Like every other leader has when camping out on the front lines and admitting a stranger in to speak with them, who may have killed many troops.

      • Having played none of the Skyrim DLC, do any of the apparently essential people that shouldn’t be play a major role in the new content?

        • Vect says:

          Well, the Jarls of the crappy little holds like Morthal or Dawnstar can give you a piece of land and a Housecarl in the Hearthfire DLC.

          Also, I’m pretty sure that the only reason Maven is marked as Essential is because she can potentially become Jarl of Riften. Still, it’s disappointing that you can’t take her down a peg or two by taking down the Thieves Guild with Mjoll.

      • Vect says:

        I thought that way too.

        Have it so that you have to have your weapons confiscated when talking to important characters like Ulfric or Tullius and that if they can’t think of a way to outright nullify magic (make you wear some Bracelets of Anti-Magic or something), have the guards have a hardline ban against using magic (makes sense considering Nords don’t like magic) and will get angry if they see you so much as using a Restoration spell. Perhaps at best you can hide a dagger on your person with high enough Sneak/One-Handed.

        And I still think it’s a damn shame that you can’t backstab Ulfric at the end of his quest by challenging him to a duel in front of all of Solitude and using your Thanehood of (Insert Hold Here) as your claim to legitimacy or something. Seems like such a wasted opportunity.

  10. Regarding Wolfgang the dead merchant: Josh just used the game to grief the NPCs. Poor Wolfgang just happened to have stepped over the line when the endgame was triggered, the shields went up, and the guy spent his last moments knowing that somehow that one guy with the bonnet was responsible for his eventual demise.

    Ah, the circle of life…

  11. sofawall says:

    Heh, I had a few tabs open and I was going through to see what they were. Clicked on this one, and it’s titled “Let the Good Times Roll”. Click on the next one? Consequences!

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