on May 18, 2010
I know this episode is crazy, but Josh was acting crazy, so it all sort of evens out. I kind of enjoyed seeing the game fly apart anyway.
And while I’m always cheerleading for Fallout 1, the inane chaos we see here was also present in that game. It’s actually incredibly hard to have a game react reasonably to small-scale crime, non-lethal assault, and “accidental” injury, because game designers usually only have two tools at their disposal:
1) Ignore player
2) Kill player
Anything between these two points involves having some sort of criminal justice system. In Fallout 1, if an errant shot missed a bad guy and hit an innocent bystander, it usually meant that every single person in town would immediately go hostile and try to murder you. This was bad in situations where you might hit someone off-screen, enrage the town, but not realize it. Only after you’d already saved the game would you notice the armies of farmers, town guards, quest givers, shopkeepers, and hobos, all marching in your direction. You were basically done in this town, forever. The “wait 3 days” mechanic in Fallout 3 might be a little crude and absurd, but it’s actually better than the alternative of letting the player get themselves into an unwinnable state because of a simple (or idiotic) mistake. You can propose a lot of alternative ways of doing this, but for the most part they will either:
1) Be insanely complex to implement and require the AI to be able to ascertain motives and investigate crime or:
2) Simply move the absurdity from one place to another.
I’m not saying it’s impossible to do, but it is tough.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.