Update: Fallout 3’s 200 endings aren’t really endings, but permutations

If you read yesterday’s post concerning Fallout 3 and its endless endings, you may either be more excited than ever about the game’s upcoming release or slightly confused about who has time to play a game through 200 times to get every ending beyond crazed completionists. Thanks to an update from Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog, it seems that we’re wrong to think there are 200 individual endings. Kind of.

Direct quote from Todd Howard on the OXM podcast:

Todd Howard: Being that we are Bethesda…everything gets a bit big. So as of last week we’re over 200 endings. That is not an exaggeration, but it deserves some description. 200 endings…that’s a lot. So originally when we started, we had various iterations of the ending. The ending is kind of cinematic, that’s dynamic based on the things you’ve done.

When we started, it was kind of fuzzy, it was like “well there’s like 9 maybe 12″ and we started adding things to it. So if you had done this or not this, you’d get this other tweak to the ending. And we kept doing that. And you know even just two weeks ago someone had this idea, “Oh we should add this idea to the ending” (sorry I’m not going to spoil what that is). And I said, “oh that’s a genius idea, we have to do that.” But then it became, “oh, but there’s four versions of that.” So i was like, “okay there’s like four different versions of that part,” and that multiplies by, at the time we were at about 60 endings…so now there’s four versions of that, so now there are around 240 versions.”

The games on paper when we get started…they’re alot smaller, and then as we go they get bigger…we can’t stop ourselves. We’re have tons of people with good ideas here, and if they’re good and fit the tone, we’re going to try to jam as much into the game as possible. Fallout is probably twice the size of what we originally had on paper…it’s pretty big, so that’s what’s happened with the endings.

So some of that stuff is the big things of what you do very late in the game, some of those are things like your karma — how you’ve lived your life from the beginning of the game — you get certain scenes based on your karma. But we kind of like the ending as much as like the game itself at the beginning is you tailoring your character and then you play throughout this game, and unlike Elder Scrolls, where it’s a game where you can keep playing, Fallout 3 has a definite ending. So we wanted to go to efforts to make sure that the actual ending you get when you finish and get the ending, and make that ending reflect and make it individual to the user’s experience. We’ve definitely gone a little overboard.

As far as I’m concerned the point of concern is left unchanged, but this does mean that each player will likely have an entirely different experience playing Fallout 3. That is a very unique thing for any game to offer. Regardless, some gamers will feel cheated in that they may never achieve every nuance of this game without an unrealitic devotion of time and effort, and that’s an issue worth discussion. 

Does the fact that the 200 endings could contain 150 permutations mean anything to you as a gamer? Are 10 great endings better than 200 miniscule deviations? Somehow I feel sure that math is coming into this very soon, and I hate math. I leave you to discuss amongst yourselves.

[Thanks Briosafreak]

Colette Bennett