If Mad Max: Fury Road had been released twenty years ago, the accompanying video game - currently in development by Avalanche Studios and scheduled for release this coming September - might've been created by Fallout develope... read
To fans of weird deadpan comedy poetry: I'd like to extend my humblest apologies for the hiatus. I'd like to say I was celebrating the 10th episode by taking some time off, but the reality is that I have just been super busy... read
[Update: We received an email from Mirada Studios demanding we pull this story. A representative cited inaccuracies, but also confirmed the story was breaking a non-disclosure agreement. As nobody at Destructoid signed an N... read
Apr 27 //
I spent way too much time looking at screens like this.
City of Heroes probably holds the dubious distinction of having the most skewed relationship in terms of “time spent planning characters VS time spent playing characters” in my life. I spent entire nights pouring over different power sets, ability combinations, and team synergies for a game that doesn't exist anymore. I devoted hours upon hours to figuring out the perfect stat progression for super villains that I knew in my heart of hearts I'd never take out of the starter area. The only crime they'd ever commit would be loitering.
However, City of Heroes wasn't the only game to trigger this kind of obsessive cataloging, not by a long shot. I have a stack of character builds and ideas as thick as the Yellow Pages for Dark Souls PvP set-ups, gimmicky X-Com squads, and Darkest Dungeon dream teams. I have concept characters (complete with embarrassing back stories) sketched out for both of the modern Fallout games. All of their would-be perks, S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats, and fashionable item accessories already plotted out -- all that’s left would be to actually wander out in the wastes and find them, but who could be bothered after so much work?
This goes way back, long before I had easy access to the internet where character planners and clever apps make it simple to plot these things out. Go back to the Precambrian era of high school days, dig through the fossil records of my notebooks and I'm sure you could find Diablo 2 skill trees scribbled in the margins of my English homework. The cave wall painting blueprints of a Hammerdin specced holy warrior looming above my predictable observations about MacBeth (probably, hopefully, accompanied by a cool doodle of a flying hammer crushing a zombie's skull).
When I step back and look at the sheer amount of go-nowhere ideas and try to tally up the time I've sunk into them compared to the relatively meager hours I've clocked into some of the games they're for, it dawns on me -- maybe this is kind of messed up. Maybe I've been living all wrong.
Looking at it from a distance, it all seems quietly sad. I've spent more time in my head with some of these games (some of my favorite games, I might add) than I have playing them. There's a small critical voice in the back of my mind that is furious with me for squandering those hours, for not doing something more productive with the time -- both in the sense of actually playing the fucking games, and in the broader and more judgmental “what are you doing with your life?!” sense.
I have perfectly good reasons (or maybe I should call them “justifications”) for all the obsessive plotting and scheming. For one thing, there are just too many cool ideas out there and not enough time to see them through. For as much as I beat myself up for the papery death of my stillborn characters, I never really would have had the time to convert those dreams into reality even if I had the work ethic of John Henry.
How long does a full play through of Diablo 2 take anyway? How many trips through Hell do you need to make to grind through the necessary experience points? If you're after a certain item set (and you know you are because you're the kind of crazy person who didn't stop reading three paragraphs ago) you'd probably need to go online to trade and wheedle your way into a full set to see it done. It's a hell of a lot more of a time investment than goofing off in English class, that's for sure. Sketching out those ideas for gimmicky Paladins and upstart Mages let me stave off the temptation to roll another character while I took my (unfortunately less imaginative) Barbarian to kick the shit out of the Prince of Lies. In a weird (insincere) way, I could even argue it helped me save time.
Besides, an immaculately planned character can be satisfying in its own right. It's always good to get your intellectual hands dirty, to put your fingers into the putty of an idea, to roll it around and shape it. As far as pastimes go, you could do worse. Let's not forget all the situations where actually playing a game would be impractical. You can goof off a little at the office and play around with the Borderlands skill editor without causing much of a scene. But try and boot up your lv 30 Gunzerker at your desk just once and you'll never hear the end of it. Human Resources takes a dim view on bringing akimbo guns blazing justice to the wasteland during company hours, apparently.
Still, I look at the swollen and poorly organized folder where I dump all of my character ideas, filthy with PDF character sheets, webpage saves from online builders, .txt documents imported from PC to PC for games I'm not even sure I own anymore, and I wonder if I have a problem. I can justify all the characters I cooked up sitting in class or during lunch breaks? I know I spent just as many perfectly fine nights sitting in front of the same machine that actually displays and runs the games I was thinking about, tapping away at some poorly conceived concept character while utterly ignoring the game itself.
At the same time though, I love those characters, I love those ideas. Yeah, most of them never made it out of the gate, but those characters had character. If videogames are mostly an exercise in mental stimulation, of burning off stressed out braincells and decompressing after a long shitty day, does it really matter if the satisfaction you get from them is through play or by tinkering with the ideas they present?
If I could swap those hours around, gut about a quarter of that folder and take the time spent on the fantasizing about those ideas to actually playing out a few of them, would I be more satisfied? Or would it shake out to be about the same? I honestly have no idea. What I do know is that while writing this article, I did have an idea for another Dark Souls 2 character, and it's been all I could do to keep myself from drifting over to a wiki to start putting him together. There may be no hope for me.
I'm the man with the plan (and little else) I've probably spent more time creating characters, builds, and dreaming up party compositions in my head than I have actually playing games. It seems odd to think of it in that way, but if I could somehow tally it all up I be... read feature
Bethesda, creator of the Elder Scrolls and the newer series of Fallout games, has sent out invites for its E3 press conference that takes place on Sunday, June 14. Pictured on the invite are reserved seats for chara... read
Mar 03 //
Love takes time to grow. I got about six hours into Fallout 3 before abandoning my first run. Something wasn't clicking. Trekking around the wasteland as a leather-jacketed hard case set on righting every wrong he came across was proving to be a snooze-fest. As was stopping to help every quailing citizen of post-apocalyptia who was having trouble with their computer, or needed a few more iguanas for their stew. I spent most of those first six hours bumbling around in Megaton, the first settlement you discover, running errands for “survivors” who seemed utterly incapable of keeping themselves alive and resenting them for it.
I felt like Dudley Do-Right cosplaying as Mad Max. What was worse was I was incompetent at it. I didn't have a clue how to fix their flipping computers. I built my first character like an Olympic athlete who could field strip an M-16 in the dark and catch bullets out of the air with his freakishly tough and unnaturally quick hands. Computers were for nerds, not wasteland avengers. I didn't make a character who could sneak around picking shitty desk locks looking for a password, or charm his way out of a confrontation. I made the kind of guy I thought the wasteland would need – an asskicker, a soldier, a rebel with a heart of gold. And it was so terribly, terribly boring.
I went back to the drawing board. I restarted the game with the kind of guy I thought the wasteland would need the least. Another lunatic set loose on the skeleton of the old world. A lanky freak who was about as tough as a ten-year-old with progeria. A man whose talents included small engine repair, skulking about in the shadows, and an unhealthy interest in explosives. Someone who was likely to rebuild something just to blow it up again.
I gave him a mohawk the color of corn-silk and a face too long for its own good. Big bulging eyes that jutted out a little too far from each other, just this side of gonk. His S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats could truly be considered “special.” Barely any strength or endurance, moderate charisma and intelligence, but preternatural powers of perception and a wild dash of luck. Maybe it reflected being born under a good sign? Or maybe it was just the natural canniness of the criminally ill.
Instead of playing a man driven by a sense of justice and righting wrongs, I gave my new character a spirit of raw curiosity. A person less interested in the right or wrong of something, but driven to explore and experiment, regardless of the outcome. I stopped choosing my words based on what I thought was right, instead just going with whatever dialog option I liked the best at the time, even if it made him occasionally contradictory or less than helpful. He had his mind shattered the moment he was cast out of the only life he ever knew and exiled into a poisoned and dead world. Or maybe there was always a spark of madness in him, fanned into a blaze by the VaultTec door swinging shut behind him.
He had a mild phobia of guns, preferring to dive into melee swinging a baseball bat or knife with his skinny arms, or better yet, to just toss grenades at his problems. I found the Vault 101 Utility suit with the red converse sneakers in the opening tutorial and kept him in them the whole game. Fuck leather jackets and metal knee braces, I was going to face the end of the world looking like a hipster janitor.
I had one guiding principal for this run: I would only do things that interested me. If a quest-line looked boring, I'd skip it. If something caught my eye, I'd abandon what I was doing and go check it out, I would always follow my curiosity. I would never bother to check my karma level, or spend time worrying about my character build (no amount of meta-gaming would ever repair his broken stats anyway). I got over my fear of sequence breaking or wandering into an area that was too tough or advanced for my character. I just assumed it would all work out eventually.
What I'm describing might not seem like much to some people. I'm sure this is how a lot of people already experience big open games like Fallout and Skyrim. But for me, it was a revolution. A complete rewiring of my mental pathways, a total inversion of how I usually approached those sorts of games.
It cured me from the paralysis of choice. The self-defeating spiral where there is just so much to do and explore that you spend more time fretting about what you “should” be doing, or what you could be missing, than actually enjoying the experience. Making a character who couldn't or wouldn't use most of the best loot in the game freed me from worrying about completing quests the “best” way. I was free from making choices based on what would get me the best laser gun at the end of a story arc to making choices that would bring me satisfaction.
I dove back into the wasteland with my funny-red-sneaker-wearing weirdo, and I didn't come back out until 120 hours later.
Forget about chasing down Dad or following up on the main quest; I picked a random direction from the door of Vault 101 and started walking. It wasn't long before I came across an abandoned shack and a big ol' combat knife called the Stabhappy. It was like providence was telling me I was on the right track.
I explored what was left of The Mall, stumbling over historic sites while trying to dodge super mutant patrols as a puny level 5 wanderer with distressingly few combat skills (landmines and re-purposed booby traps became my best friend). I got the vague sensation that I was probably supposed to end up in this area as part of some epic quest-line later in the game, but so what? I was curious, plus it was more fun having to sneak by all the mutants than it would have been to just hurl plasma at them.
Much later on, I was tasked with escorting a teenager named Sticky from the child-only settlement of Little Lamplight to Big Town, where they exile all the chumps who are getting a little too old for their own good. So I did what any responsible adult would do when saddled with an annoying 16-year-old who has the mental competency of a 13-year-old: I gave him a suit of cybernetic war armor and a gigantic mini-gun.
When I got him to Big Town, it seemed weird to let him wander about in his powersuit while the rest of the town's residents wore rags and were trying to defend themselves with rusty bolt-action rifles and lead pipes. So militarizing Big Town became my pet project.
One of the many quirks of the Gamebryo engine Bethesda uses is the ability to reverse-pickpocket items into an NPC's possession. If you have a high enough sneak rating, you can (somehow) covertly place a flamethrower in a random NPC's pocket, and they'll equip it next time you load up the area. Same with clothes and armor. The items are persistent, so they'll stick with the characters and over time, Big Town became my own living museum of all the cool gear I couldn't or wouldn't use. Custom power armor from The Pitt DLC, named weapons like the Blackhawk magnum and Lincoln's Repeater. Big Town went from a squalid little town of sad-sack victims to the most lethally armed collection of mentally compromised teens in the wastes.
That's just a sample of the kind of dumb shit I got up to. I made the Capital Wasteland my sandbox, and Bethesda provided me with all the right tools and set dressings to play in it. It is a rare and precious thing to lose yourself completely in a game, and Fallout 3 provided me with some of the most memorable and potent moments I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
I want to feel that excitement again. Skyrim was great, but for as much fun as I had with its dragons and necromancers, a part of me was always wistful for the nuclear ashes of America circa 2277. Obsidian’s New Vegas was a good dose for keeping the shakes at bay, with some welcome mechanics that made soft-skills more important and some colorful characters (all hail “kai-sar”). But its endless brown deserts and frustratingly lethal wildlife left me cold. It felt like the game was always trying to punish me for going off the beaten trail and trying to explore it like the Capital Wasteland.
I want to see what the A-team can do. I want to see what Bethesda has learned from Skyrim, what ideas it can poach from New Vegas, and what it'll leave on the cutting-room floor. I want to return to the wasteland, see what kind of stories it has left to tell, what kind of characters are still rattling around in the grave of the old world. I'm hungry for it, ready to chomp down on any scrap of news, hell, I'd be happy even for the meager crumbs of a teaser trailer, anything.
It's been almost seven years since Fallout 3 came out and Bethesda has been stubbornly, frustratingly silent about the future of the series. Will the studio finally have something to say about it this GDC? Doubtful. But at this point, I have no choice but to hope.
The wait is worse than the radioactive cannibals GDC is here, and as is the case with any big trade show or splashy industry event, I'll be on tenterhooks waiting to hear the one piece of news I care about -- When is Fallout 4 going to happen? For years I've expected the an... read feature
[Update: Bethesda's taken to Twitter to state that this trademark didn't come from its offices, and is nothing more than a hoax. Someone likely filed it in Bethesda's name given that the publisher is listed as the propri... read
The veteran developers will add their input after a Kickstarter stretch goal was met
// Alasdair Duncan
Personally, I blame the World Cup for distracting me from the news that the team behind the great Fallout fan-film, Nuka Break, launched its Kickstarter to fund the filming of future episodes. Thankfully, film makers Wayside... read
Speedrunner BubblesDelFuego completed a new world record Fallout 3 run in a ridiculous 23 minutes and 55 seconds, beating out his old record of 24 minutes and 20 seconds. I spent more time than that on my first playthrough r... read
Make the gamers dance 'cause he's rock 'n' rollin'
// Brittany Vincent
What's more metal than a 17-minute instrumental medley featuring some of your favorite video game tracks? Anything Nathan Explosion touches, but that's beside the point. This impressive project was three years in the making,... read
It seems as if every Fallout fan has their own wishlist for the next installment in the series. Many hope for certain locations and settings, some yearn for robust characters, and others desire specific game mechanics. H... read
Wasteland 2 is poised to ship at the end of August 2014, and you can play it right now via the Wasteland 2 Steam Early Access beta. Well, you can play the entire Arizona area of the game. That's still playing, kind of. Right?... read
You can look, but you can't touch/I don't think I like you much
// Brittany Vincent
How many times while playing through Fallout 3 did you stop to wish you had your very own Pip-Boy 3000? Every five minutes? Me too. Now, we're one step closer to actually having our very own Pip-Boy, straight from the vault.... read
[Dtoid community blogger Ross shares a fun, short piece of fan-fiction set in the Fallout universe. I promise, you won't see the ending coming :) Want to see your own blog appear on our front page? Go write something! --Mr An... read
Breaking: my hair looks great today
Here's your Tuesday Newsday for the last week or so! Today, we got a sexy new Dragon Age III: Inquisition trailer, some HD footage of Star Citizen out of PAX East, announcements of a new Fatal Frame on Wii-U as well as a bun... read feature
Could a new Fallout game or property be in the works? Recently, ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks, quietly filed three separate trademarks for "Nuka Cola." Delicious and informative, yes?
Nuka Cola is a favo... read
Bethesda game director Todd Howard recently spoke to Rock Paper Shotgun about the Fallout series, and you probably aren't going to like what he has to say. Although everyone expects a "Fallout 4 in Boston" reveal so... read
If you were losing your sh*t about the Fallout series games disappearing from Steam, here's some good news from Bethesda's Twitter:
We’re working to return classic @Fallout games (1, 2, Tactics) to Steam and will provi... read
I sincerely hope you managed to grab Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics while they were being offered for free on GOG.com. The games are no longer purchasable, as was made clear during the giveaway, however if you do own... read
DTOID News is brought to you by new socks
Hey gang! Here's your Destructoid news update for this Thursday. I dabbled in some non-gaming news, I hope you don't mind. There are a lot more exciting movie trailers this week than there are game trailers.
The news: Fallou... read feature
Here's a quick deal roundup from our deals corgi this morning on a bunch of Bethesda games. Did you know that Amazon is selling Bethesda's games digitally? Now you do!
Speaking of Bethesda, how 'bout that Fallout 4? No? Well,... read
Winter means great deals and avoiding looking at your bank balance
// Alasdair Duncan
We're in mid-December and for me, that means two things: I'm pretty much broke as I've bought so many Christmas presents (you're welcome friends and family) and that there's going to be bargains galore as many online outlets ... read
As disappointing as it was to see the survivor2299.com teaser site end up being a hoax, Bethesda making another Fallout game is a matter of when, not if. It's really the time frame we're more concerned about, and based on cas... read
While I did get energized by that darned website thesurvivor2299.com -- the possibility of another Fallout will do that to you -- I wasn't nearly as invested in it as I could have been. A part of me knew deep down that someth... read
The weird website thesurvivor2299.com seemed to be leading up to an announcement for Fallout 4, but now the site just has a video of a sad violin. Bethesda already said that they weren't going to be showing anything... read
Looks like we got our first disappointment of the week. With the VGX awards only two days away, the anticipation for what new titles are going to be revealed is reaching fever pitch. Unfortunately, we just got a confirmation ... read
Max Scoville made a Dtoid Show episode all by himself
// Max Scoville
Hey guys! Here's another newsy-type update, which I hope can become a regular thing. It's not quite the Destructoid show you're used to, but you can see we've made some progress. I swear to god, Destructoid has been cursed by... read
Anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area can apply to test unknown title
// Alessandro Fillari
There's been a lot of chatter lately about what the developers at Bethesda Softworks have got in the works. With the recent survivor2299 website popping up, and the trademarks for Fallout 4 being registered, many people are c... read
I love crazy codes and weird puzzles like this. Thesurvivor2299.com popped up a couple of weeks ago, and it is commonly thought to be a teaser for the upcoming announcement of Fallout 4. The site has an ever-changing morse co... read
Some ambitious modders have decided to try to add multiplayer to Fallout 3 on the PC, and so far it looks like they are going to be able to pull it off. The Vault-Tec Multiplayer Mod is a server framework that will connect p... read