Overhaulout Part 7: Family Picnic

By Rutskarn
on Oct 20, 2017
Filed under:
Video Games

As we complete the Braun chamber I have no amendments to the substance of the quest worth nothing here., we run into one of my trickier objections to Fallout 3’s story design: the part where we’re actually reunited with our father comes off awkward and not especially satisfying. Partially this is for emotional reasons, since the story’s kept our attitude towards our father more or less in limbo since his inexplicable and extremely irresponsible departure from Vault 101, but more practically it is because what we really need is a sequence where we hash things out with dad and it doesn’t fit into the established meter of this section.

Even story-first players such as myself will get impatient if too much time is spent frozen in conversation limbo right after a sequence that’s overly scripted or linear. It’s bad design to jump straight from the Braun chamber into our heart-to-heart dialogue with our father; we need a little time to roam around and stretch our legs with some unscripted mechanical engagement. Besides, it would feel weird to have a serious talk in the Stanford prison vault…although given that it seems perfectly safe and clean, and how emotionally urgent this scene is, it also feels weird not to unless there’s actually a good reason.

Because you know what else feels weird? Busting your dad loose, trading a few perfunctory pleasantries, then agreeing to defer conversation until you’ve both silently trekked across the wasteland, punching animals and putting the Project Purity band back together.

What would be natural would be to catch up with your father as you exit together, but the engine can’t handle that and it wouldn’t feel right even if we found a workable compromise–for example, breaking the conversation up between “nodes” along our trip. Our story demands a face-to-face comfortable dialogue the logistics of the scene isn’t disposed to give us.

There has to be a better way.

It wouldn’t be such a big deal, only this scene is kind of the emotional highlight of the whole arc. If it’s a little bit janky, that’s more than a little bit of a problem. Here are my best immediate fixes:

  1. Transition straight into another action beat. The player’s tripped the Vault’s security somehow and after only a few lines of dialogue, the player and father have to shoot their way out. Basically, remove the Vault itself as a safe quiet space for a conversation and we remove the player’s reasonable desire to have one there, even if it’s a little bit awkward.
  2. Once the players are outside the Vault in the wasteland, that’s clearly not the right place to have a heart-to-heart. However, James knows a good place nearby. We can take advantage of an already existing location (is that one fishing shack nearby? I forget) or posit our own—some wasteland diner selling dog meat and chips in discreet booths, maybe.
  3. Once the player reaches that place, and sits down with James, then they have their important discussion.

I’ve made no secret about my dislike for James as portrayed in the main game. I think he’s shortsighted, impulsive, unwilling to take responsibility for his actions, and a thousand times more boring than any of these qualities suggest because the game won’t acknowledge them. Occasionally the player can say something like “That was really stupid, dad,” and he’ll say, “You’re right,” and then everyone involved will smooth over it. His most dangerous mistakes aren’t treated as consequences of who he is or the logical products of his principles; they’re basically on the level of forgetting to buy orange juice at the grocery store.

This conversation has to have some passion to it, even if the player isn’t interested in picking a fight. I want to give Liam Neeson something to do. This is where that voice acting money’s gonna come in, because this conversation’s going to have an uncomfortably high number of branching permutations.

The talk will always start the same way: dad, who’s clearly been rehearsing this on the way over, says something to the effect of: “I appreciate your help, but I really didn’t want you to come after me, and while I respect your choices I think it would be best if you returned home until…”

At which point the player gets to tell him, with optional degrees of sass: “You know I got kicked out, right?”Which, frankly, they’d have WAY more reason to be furious about in the original than in my version.

He’s going to react with anger and outrage—“I can’t believe the overseer would do that, he’s insane, what kind of blah blah”—and the player will have their first real choice in the discussion.

On the one hand, they can challenge this reaction. Not because he’s wrong, but because the intensity and duration of his anger is clearly a defense mechanism excusing himself of wrongdoing. It’s the emotional logic of guilty people everywhere: if the Overseer’s actions were irrational, delusional, unethical, maniacal, then James is absolved of any responsibility for jeopardizing his child with such an irresponsible and miscommunicated escape. Players may point out to James that while the Overseer is a tyrant, he should have taken that into account when deciding to run away. James will not react gracefully to this point; he’ll overflow with excuses. It’s not my fault. I thought he was reasonable. You’re a grown adult, you can take care of yourself. There’s more lives at stake than mine and yours. In the face of these rationalizations and dodges player will have options to let off the heat, to hold firm, or to fire back. Stepping off will return the conversation to the middle, and the already tense and charged conversation will continue as normal. Holding firm will make it clear that for one reason or another, James is barely holding it together and will probably have a breakdown if he lets himself realize he’s at fault. Firing back will get very, very ugly.

The other initial reaction available to the player is the comfortable one: to echo their father’s anger at the Overseer. By bonding over mutual indignation, the player offers James solidarity, relief, and absolution. The player gives themselves the gift of bonding positively with one’s father at the expense of an honest emotional accounting. People make choices very much like this with their families every day.

After the confrontation there is a chance to make James justify his actions, either by simply asking him to explain himself or by demanding he return home for your sake (a request he’ll hotly refuse). James expresses how deep a depression he’d fallen into; how useless and helpless he felt, how he couldn’t shake the feeling that all he was doing was make himself and his family comfortable at the expense of increasing human misery in 101. His dreams became haunted with his wife, the player’s mother, and the heartbreaking feeling she’d died for nothing. He kept his past from the player out of an earnest but misplaced desire not to inflict the burden of his choices and sacrifices on them. He explains that no good can be done without sacrifice. He will ask for forgiveness.

If things go well, the player is asked to join him at Project Purity. If things don’t, the conversation will probably end decidedly prematurely. He will leave somberly, telling you (with barely concealed anger) to return once you’ve both had time to think things through, and the quest will be marked resolved. Then, some time later, a new quest will emerge: Confront your father.

NEXT: THE ENCLAVE ARRIVES

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Footnotes:

[1] I have no amendments to the substance of the quest worth nothing here.

[2] Which, frankly, they’d have WAY more reason to be furious about in the original than in my version.


202020565 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.

From the Archives:

  1. Mattias42 says:

    …Why can’t you have your heart to heart in the vault, by the way? Be it in this version or the vanilla one?

    There’s no real threats in there unless you pick a fight like an idiot (doubly so with the systems fried and/or shut down into admin only mode), and ignoring the potential and dangers of the technology at his finger-tips in favor of some noble but half-baked dream is more or less the central premise of your father’s entire character.

    Wouldn’t it make perfect character sense for dad just to geek out over what he could do to help the wasteland with this technology right then and there, with acknowledging you and your struggles happening only way, way~ past some sort of begrudging admittance or waving off of any dangers with that idea?

    I do agree though, that how you’re not even allowed to grind dad’s nose in what a colossal idiot he’s been extremely frustrating, downright cowardly writing, however. Well up there with how the post DLC endings freaking mocks the player for finding a solution that’s actually smart and lets everybody live.

    • Abnaxis says:

      The idea is, that the preceding section with Braun had no shooting, even though this is a shooter game. It’s bad form to sit the player down and have them spend the last X minutes doing dialogue, then immediately follow that up with even more dialog that’s WAY MORE IMPORTANT than all the talky bits they just finished, but they’re tired of talky bits by the time you finally get to it.

      The whole point Ruts is making is that yes, it makes sense to have the talk in the vault. But that sucks from a game design perspective.

      • Mattias42 says:

        Ah, that’s a fair enough point.

        Still, wouldn’t a more organic way to handle it be the security system freaking out or one last contingency by Bruan, you have to defend ‘dear’ ol’ dad, and then chatting?

        • silver Harloe says:

          Isn’t that what Ruts implied when he wrote “Transition straight into another action beat. The player’s tripped the Vault’s security somehow and after only a few lines of dialogue, the player and father have to shoot their way out.”? That sounds like “the security system freaking out or one last contingency by Bruan” to me.

    • BlueHorus says:

      So I never played the DLC (Broken Steel) that extends the ending all the way through. How does the game mock your choices?

      Is it that suspicious characters immediately start selling irradiated water (and calling it Aqua Pura) after you activate James’ miracle purifier? ‘Cos that always struck me as particuarly bad writing.

      – No-one seems to need clean water in F03 (except random beggars who never change whether they get the water or not; a typically lazy, shallow way to depict water-scarcity.)
      – Nevertheless, we used a super-science McGuffin to provide free, clean water for everyone. This was the ostensibly the point of the main quest, including lots of talk of sacrifice.
      – Now that water is free and clean, someone turns up and offers people the option to pay for dirty water.
      – People then buy this dirty water.

      …It would take a very, very long post to pick apart all the things wrong with this plotline.

      • Mattias42 says:

        Short version: The game calls you a coward for ‘refusing to fulfill your destiny’ during near the entire ending. Subtly with the characters, right in your face with some of the ending slides.

        Long version:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac-taerYGJo

        Honestly, it comes off as a really petty ‘take that!’ from Bethesda for how many called their ending out as dumb and contrived back when F3 was new.

        I mean, it IS better then the vanilla version where all the radiation immune followers (3 of them!) just blankly refuse, but it’s still really petty and annoying. Like the game’s DM is whining at you that your clever solution wasn’t dramatic enough for his ‘awesome’ morale dilemma, or something.

        • BlueHorus says:

          Heh, similar to the Extended Cut of ME3’s ending, where people complained that they couldn’t tell the Star Child to take his dumbass colour-coded Ending-O-Tron and shove it up his Catalyst.

          So in the Extended Cut that option was added, and it led to a cutscene where the Crucible didn’t work.
          “WELL THEN THE REAPERS WIN THEN AND ALL YOUR FRIENDS DIE! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW!?”

          (Not that I expected a happy ending for shooting that stupid kid. They’d painted themselves into a corner with the Crucible plotline and there wasn’t any other way for that action to go that wouldn’t be even more of an asspull.)

          Still, Bioware did it with more class than Bethesda.

          • JBC31187 says:

            I prefer Bethesda’s edit; sure they whine about it, but aside from Ron Perleman calling you a coward they actually follow through, and it never comes up again. Whereas the Bioware DM throws their tantrum and ends the game because you didn’t follow the railroad tracks.

            • JBC31187 says:

              I just want to add: part of Fallout 3’s DM tantrum is mitigated (for me, anyway) by the nature of the game. As others have mentioned, Bethesda didn’t make a cohesive world, they made a backdrop with dungeons and one-shot stories. So, you can make the sacrifice, skip the movie, and go back to bouncing around the world. Mass Effect’s all about Shepard and their fight against the Reapers which makes the main plot’s flaws even more obnoxious.

              • BlueHorus says:

                First time I’ve seen Fallout 3’s ‘sod-it-that’s-good-enough’ writing style argued as a positive thing for the story.One more nonsense twist is old hat by now.
                I like it. :D

                Personally I think Bioware did it better because Star Child/writers never called me a coward or expressed that much opinion on my actions. He just says ‘SO BE IT’ and walks away.
                Cue ending cutscene, which doesn’t include Liara saying ‘we trusted Shepard and he fucked up! That’s why this happened, hint hint.”

                Fallout 3 having Ron Perlman talk of your common sense as a failure (to do something blisteringly stupid!) during the ending slides seems more like the devs whining. Both endings are railroad-y and bad – but I know which developer seemed to me like they were having a dig at the player personally.

                • ElementalAlchemist says:

                  Personally I think Bioware did it better because Star Child/writers never called me a coward or expressed that much opinion on my actions.

                  That difference is what makes the ME3 ending worse. FO3 is just a stupid ending to a stupid plot. The outcome of shooting the ghost kid in ME3 is a passive-aggressive FU to fans that waited 5 years to see the culmination of their choices and actions across three games and weren’t happy with the “speculation!” that Bioware initially offered them.

                  • BlueHorus says:

                    Well it was relatively easy to fix FO3’s ending: a few new dialogue lines, some changes during the ending slides to say ‘Fuck You’ to the players with common sense, a cinematic of your companion walking into the control room…you even wake up from a coma at the beginning of Broken Steel, regardless of whether you ‘died’ in the control room or not.
                    Plus they were probably already making the DLC before any ending furore started, so they just added some bits to what they’d already got.

                    Bethesda didn’t have to do much – but they went out of their way to complain at the players as well.

                    Meanwhile, fixing ME3’s ending would have been a much bigger task. The entire Crucible plot, the geth/quarian plotline that (also EDI as a companion) that proves the central argument false, the lack of resolution or information about the companion characters, so many other things…
                    The FU to fans who wanted better was written into the entire game, long before Extended Cut was even considered.

                    Bioware at least went out of their way to try and answer some of the complaints. They didn’t do enough, sure (think how hard THAT would have been – like an overhaul of the entire plot?), but they also didn’t say FU as part of the patch in the same way Bethesda did.

                    • galacticplumber says:

                      I still favor Bethesda’s version in this case. You say Bethesda didn’t have to work as hard to fix their mistake? Yeah, that’s called the BENEFIT OF NOT FUCKING UP AS SEVERELY. You don’t get a gold star for trying when your awful ending is still awful by any reasonable account.

                      Bethesda fixed the biggest most common fan complaint with their ending, and they complained a bit.

                      Bioware polished a turd slightly and added an entire cutscene demonstrating that people doing exactly what most complainers wanted to do is written to get everything killed because fuck you.

                    • Sleeping Dragon says:

                      (The comment pyramid is filled)

                      So I’m going to say that in my opinion overall ME3 is more of a mess than FO3, in large part because they had three games to mess it up. That said I actually somewhat respect the “SO BE IT” option, I just think it should have been in the game from the beginning. The stupidity of the Crucible arc notwithstanding this is actually a logical result of the player’s actions. We were told from the first game that Reapers were unstoppable, no “nigh” about it, that even with the advantage that the council races got (additional time, being able to research Sovereign’s wreckage etc.) barring a miracle they would wipe organic cultures out. So if the player decides to spit said miracle in the face (again, stupidity of said miracle aside) this is exactly what happens. I actually liked the Liara video bit because it showed that the current civilizations are a hair’s breadth away from being nothing more than the Protheans for the next cycle, that no amount of “power of friendship” and “united we stand” could save the galaxy.

                      Mind you, I will fully agree that Bioware did everything they could to undermine this by letting Reapers be destroyed left and right and I absolutely do not claim that the addition of this option somehow salvages the mess that the storyline, and especially the Crucible, is. I’m just saying that I’m willing to give it to the writers that this is something that stems from core concepts of the narrative rather than “a passive-aggressive FU”.

            • ElementalAlchemist says:

              Yeah while the vanilla FO3 ending was retarded, the shooting the ghost kid thing in ME3 is a literal 5 year old stamping their feet, a petulant outburst in response to player criticism. Artistic integrity, indeed.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            That me3 ending was petty,but at the same time much better than any of the other 3 options,with a nice resolution for the conversation with liara you got before.

          • FluffySquirrel says:

            I dunno, I’ve always wondered why you couldn’t just get there and depending on the choices you’ve made, point out the clear proof of sentients and synths being able to get along.

            I would’ve been happy not having the big explosive endings, all I wanted was to be able to reasonably talk things through with the weird star kid and go “If you don’t believe us, that’s fine. We’ll prove it to you. Give us another 50,000 years” .. swayed by Shepards pretty solid proof and logic, the reapers slowly disappear, saying that they’ll be watching.

            • Kavonde says:

              … That is an astoundingly good idea.

              EDIT: Although, thinking about it a bit more, the Star Child might point out that the galaxy’s weapons are capable of damaging and destroying Reapers already, albeit inefficiently, and another 50k years of technological development would probably lead to the Reapers being curb stomped upon their return. So maybe not.

              • djw says:

                Well, you would think that with all the brainpower they had to throw at the problem the Reapers would have figured out for themselves that “killing all sapients” every 50,000 years is a really dumb way to solve the non-problem of synth vs organic conflict.

                Honestly, that ending is fractally stupid, and there is no way to solve it that does not involve getting rid of the entire plot of ME3, and large parts of ME2.

                • BlueHorus says:

                  Worse than that – sending SYNTHETICS to periodically kill all organics, in the name of protecting the organics from being killed by synthetics.

                  I still like Shamus’ summation (paraphrased):

                  Someone else once burned dinner, therefore to protect you from kitchen fires I will raze your city to the ground.

                  While FluffySquirrel’s idea is really good, I think the Reapers are too dense and/or arrogant to listen – did you play the Leviathan DLC?
                  ‘Cos that implied that the Reaper’s creators (you meet one) had their heads so far up their own asses they couldn’t let themselves believe that any other race was more capable than them, even when it came to common sense and basic logic.
                  Then they made an AI as arrogant and thick as themselves, which turned on them – cue cycle of Reaping.

            • tremor3258 says:

              That sounds like a proper blue ending, right there.

            • shoeboxjeddy says:

              The issues with doing this, as described by ME3 lore in game, as that the AI itself may be inherently flawed and therefore incapable of being swayed by this argument AND that, from the Reapers perspective, they are NOT killing everything, they’re preserving it (by making it into another Reaper). So your solution of “maybe let us kill ourselves for another cycle, just to see” would sound very stupid and against their mission to them. They may also see the Quarian/Geth peace as a sort of “peace in the Middle East” thing where that will last months or less and then open war will break out again. And they may actually be right about that, depends on how stubborn the two cultures are. The Quarians are pretty massively stubborn and rather foolish. Unless Tali somehow creates a dynasty of Quarians with patience and common sense to lead on after her death, the results are up in the air.

      • Destrustor says:

        The dirty water scammers kinda make sense if you take into account the idea that the purifier, while processing large quantities of water, only does so locally; purified water doesn’t magically appear in people’s faucets ten miles upstream. Thus, that water needs to be delivered and transported to the people who need it, and the fake water sellers are just pretending to be the legitimate delivery people.
        The system is still new enough that it’s almost guaranteed to be short on people to do the deliveries, increasing the chances that a large percentage of the population still hasn’t encountered the real deal and haven’t been told that the pure water is being given for free. The scammers are just using the shortage of staff to parasite off the system before it gets off the ground fully and stops being profitable.

        • BlueHorus says:

          That does make sense…I’m reminded, though, of some of the discussions we had during Bob Case’s GoT reviews here: specifically, the way realism seemed to be more or less important depending on the scene.

          “I know, let’s have a battle centred around a convoy of food wagons, because people are starving! Oops, battle done, let’s not mention those starving people again.”
          “So, I know people and their armies have been teleporting backwards and forwards all season, but suddenly in the very last episode we’ll consider how long it takes to get to the wall with an army for story reasons.”

          It makes me go: Now? NOW?! Now you start to consider this stuff?! Where was this consideration for detail when you when I got sneakily ambushed by a group of power-armored goons using a stun grenade that we’ll never see again, who somehow snuck undetected through a dark super-mutant-infested vault?
          Or when I was wondering who to ask in the Brotherhood fortress how many resources it takes to repair and run a giant pre-war robot, when you’ve explicitly said you’ve split from the Brotherhood of Steel proper to help the local people. What else could these scientists be doing?

  2. Primogenitor says:

    The post-Brawn stroll always triggered ludonarrative dissonance for me. Here’s a vast wasteland to cross, that the player has spent hours building up the resources to handle and the game has a built up as dangerous with Super Mutants et al, and James walked out and is going to walk back to DC with a 10mm pistol and a vault suit – the player’s starting equipment.

    If he was a gunslinging badass, or sneaky ninja then I could buy it. But he’s very clearly not – in either Bethesda or Rutskarns vision.

    I guess the fix is simple; James has a salvaged StealthBoy (or 6) that he can control to avoid threats. Even fits thematically a bit – he’s a coward that avoids conflict and can’t solve problems head-on.

    • Viktor says:

      I would have gone with unique plasma weapon(which also gives you a preview of it as a threat for when the Enclave takes it off his body and gives it to a miniboss), but yours works too. All you need is something for James so that he’s not obviously under-equipped. Armor, speed-boosting drugs/gear, stealthboy, weapons, doesn’t matter, just something that lets him indicate “Yes, I am prepared for the wasteland”.

      • Syal says:

        Perk: Doctor Death. Years of healing people have taught you their fragility. 100% chance to cripple target’s limbs. Requires 100 medicine, 10 Perception and ?? Intelligence.

        Alternate perk: Well-Known Stranger. Like Mysterious Stranger, but he just won’t leave.

      • Guile says:

        “He’s a scientist, right? Scientists are all really good at using plasma weapons.”
        “Well, I’m really more of a medical doctor with some talent in mechanics. Had to pick it up on the job, when-”
        “Right, right. Get that man a unique plasma weapon!”

    • BlueHorus says:

      Just finished posting abut this and how bad it was for me below.

      But you don’t even need a specific reason; if James said “Come find me at Project Purity in a few days and we’ll talk. I need a bit of time to get used to not being stuck in a virtual dog body – and plan how I’m going to get there/find a caravan/whatever. See you in three days?”

      Quest updates to ‘meet Dad at Project Purity in three days time’, including a countdown.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      It always puzzled me why they decided to do this. I think they thought having James make his way on foot would add to the realism… but his essential status just makes it ridiculous and immersion breaking.

  3. BlueHorus says:

    In my vanilla F03 game, James’ response to seeing me after so long (and after I freed him from a VR prison, no less!) was that he started to jog tirelessly and relentlessly in the direction of Rivet City like a homing pigeon, at midnight, only deviating from his path to to attack car-sized radscorpions with his bare fists.
    Without fail, they knocked him unconscious very quickly and then turned to me. After the second time I died I was NOT amused by these antics.
    I can’t remember exactly what he said before he set off, but it was something underwhelming that got chased out of my mind by giant radscorpions.

    Almost everything about THAT experience could be improved.

    …But. The confrontation with James in Ruts’ version would be a massive challenge to write. The number of things that different players might want to say/confront him with, the differing variables like how intelligent the player character is, all the different way they could ract to his defensiveness and then James’ responses to them…that’s a hell of a lot of things to plan out.
    How long do we have with Liam Neeson in the recording studio?

    • Rutskarn says:

      I wouldn’t have suggested it if I hadn’t written similar conversations for Unrest, but I certainly grant the addition of a voice actor magnifies the complexity greatly.

      • galacticplumber says:

        Or consequence of complexity at least. Assuming you managed to write all it before recording added voice acting wouldn’t directly increase complexity too much for the writer. It would make that voice acting significantly more expensive.

        • I, personally, would be strongly tempted to do a Sith Lords style recap where you tell various people on the road to find James how you feel about what happened, and you get a narrow list of conversation options when you get to James that reflect your previous choices.

          And then I’d write it in such a way that as many as possible of the options presented cycle back into the main conversation thread at different points. I’ve done quite a bit of this style of dialog–it’s a little hard to get it all ready, but it doesn’t actually require that many distinct paths to make it SEEM like there are a lot of options going on.

          And you can give the player more opportunities to say things to cheaper voice actors later.

          If you actually make an effort to tie major sub-areas into the theme, you can give the player changes to make mention of it then, too, because they’re rejecting or embracing or doing whatever with James’s principles.

          I’ve always found this broader approach to be more satisfying than trying to wodge LITERALLY EVERYTHING into a SINGLE branching conversation tree.

      • Decius says:

        If the budget doesn’t include Liam Neeson doing all the voice acting you need the character to have, then find a cheaper voice actor or increase the budget.

        Seriously, what percentage increase in the budget is headline voice acting?

        • djw says:

          And *this* is why I like the way they handled it in Pillars of Eternity. Voice the first sentence, write out the rest of it. Half the time I didn’t even notice when the talking stopped.

          Edit: actually, I never noticed.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats how they did it way back when they started with isometric rpgs.But then,they did it because they couldnt just store all the voice files.

            • djw says:

              Switching to full voice acting was a negative development, for me at least. I have to play with subtitles on anyway, since I can almost never understand what voice actors are saying (I think this is a problem with the way my brain tracks sound in a distracting environment).

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                I try to listen to most of them at first,but switch to just reading subtitles later,either because the voice acting isnt that special,most lines are just generic “Welcome to the shop”,or the lines have weird pauses due to how they were recorded.So yeah,not a progress in my book either.

                • Destrustor says:

                  Yeah after a point they could voice them just mumbling simlish-style voice noise since I often end up using the subtitles to read faster than they can speak, and the voice acting becomes little more than background noise that tells me how the person sounds.

      • BlueHorus says:

        I don’t doubt it’s possible. And done well it would be infinitely more memorable than the vanilla version. As well as better than the vast majority of game conversations out there.

        I have seen conversations like this done in games. Standout example Shadowrun: Dragonfall, where you had a couple of arguments with NPCs featuring ways to mess up, options that only appeared if you’d done other things previously, and a sense of actual accomplishment if you win (even though it changes the story only very slightly.
        (Incidentally, if any site contributors are looking for new material for the future, a series on the newer Shadowrun games could be interesting…)

        Of course, one could also save money by not hiring big-name actors to voice act. Especially if you’re going to have them do so damn little (Patrick Steward in Oblivion, anyone?). If you weren’t putting your money into stunt casting, Bethesda, you could follow Shamus’ advice and hire an actual writer with that money!

  4. Brian Sebor says:

    I’d have made James into a temporary companion and if you spend time with him instead of immediately teleporting to Project Purity, you will have ample opportunity to talk to him about this and all sorts of other things, but that’d be a pretty substantial change to how he works in the game (and might be too much money thrown at Liam Neeson).

  5. MichaelGC says:

    With specific reference here to the bit about guilt and the bit about families, not for the first time my mind reels a little at how far off the charts Rutskarn’s WIS stat must be.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    How about this:

    Once wokem up,james tells you “Ive been stuck in here for days,my muscles arent working that well.Bring me MEDICINE from the cabinet OVER THERE”.You get it,then you talk for a bit while the medicine gets working,and then you walk out.

    Its not perfect,because if you beeline there you can reach the place in a day or so,but still.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aye, but I think Rutskarn is trying to adjust the pacing so that whatever happens, the talking-to-dad bit doesn’t happen straight after the talking-to-Braun bit. So the only way to make that not-odd is to remove the opportunity.

      Maybe once you’re done with Braun there’s a computer glitch and instead of logging straight off you suddenly have to fight your way through a dodgy simulated Wolfenstein knock-off? Oh no wait – they showed us their dodgy simulated shooter chops with that Operation Anchorage DLC, didn’t they. Ghastly. Or … well, I guess they absolutely nailed the ‘dodgy’ bit, anyway.

      Ah well, Vault security will do – it goes haywire because Braun was oddly enough the only thing keeping it under control all this time, style o’ fing.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        The OVER THERE can be anywhere in the vault,protected by anything from rad roaches to sentry turrets.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Ah, OK, I see – well, long as we get to punch a radroach and/or some shootybangs, that’s all good, then! It is a shame the engine can’t multitask the conversation to take place during some action. (Like with Kyle Reese during the chase scene at the start of Terminator: I’ll have an action-burger with exposition-fries and a plotshake, please.) It’d help thinly paper over some of the oddities of the encounter if it could occur whilst you were doing something else as well. Like punching a radroach, e.g.

      • galacticplumber says:

        I mean come on. It wasn’t good by any means but it was more or less serviceable for a brief change of pace. Which that DLC was and which this would be.

  7. Decius says:

    Wake up, security system is activated, dad gets split from player through a convenient contrivance and leaves yelling “Meet me in Rivet City!”.

  8. DwarfWarden says:

    I’ll still never forget my journey across the wasteland with Dad.

    He ran off countless times to engage in fistfights with radioactive bears instead of using the GUN that he apparently had. Then after one particular Super Mutant camp needed to be cleared he got beaten unconscious. After I took care of all the bad stuff and I was looting I noticed Dad running towards me with a conspicuously large right arm – turns out he ganked a Power Fist off a dead body and because of the ‘hurr durr use best skill’ logic he would only fight unarmed.

  9. MichaelGC says:

    Looks like Steam is having a 50% off sale of all Fallout stuff. I assume that’ll be to take advantage of the extra interest in the franchise that this series is generating.

    Anyway, act now and you too can slog through Operation Anchorage with only half as much of the usual buyer’s remorse!

    • galacticplumber says:

      I’d rather have anchorage than zeta. Of course the CORRECT answer is new vegas with all DLC while you can, but a point is a point.

      • Ciennas says:

        Funnily enough, Zeta might have been bearable- if they hadn’t tried to imply that the aliens had anything to do with human history in the setting.

        If they had just kidnapped a bunch of random wastelanders from all over the world, would it have been so terrible? I could see a couple of tribals that settle on feudal Japan military wear, a Mojave inhabitant, a space obsessed Hubologist (With real working space suit!), a… i dunno- Canadian medic and his two squaddies, and a creepy little girl of indeterminate origin.

        Reveal the aliens to be a scouting vessel or something, and ensure they can’t call the rest of the aliens attention to us. Done.

        Of course, they have us NUKE a section of Canada- something that they very well should have mentioned in Fallout 4. I guess their solution to all of our complaints was to pretend that only the broadest of strokes story events happened. I mean, they made water purification something the player can do casually with zero knowledge- everyone has a solution to dirty water, so who knows.

        Maybe Fallout 5 will also pretend nothing happened except in the vaguest of strokes to the Commonwealth too.

        • Jeff says:

          To be fair, water purification is elementary survival knowledge. It would be trivial to those who survived a few generations.

          It’s not that FO4 had it wrong, but that FO3 is nonsensical stupidity.

    • Ani-kun says:

      More like they’re trying to stop people talking about the godawful Creation Club by offering cheap deals for a while.

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