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Defining (The) Fallout(s): Part 1
 
[ Game -> Mismatch's Corner ]
Mismatch's Corner posted by King of Creation Thu 08 Feb 2007, 1:59 AM
More info on Game: Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game | More info on Game: Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game

Defining (The) Fallout(s)
Or: Finding the Pee in in ArrrPeeGee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkBNKa2KXZE

There are certainly people more suited than I am to write an article like this. However, in the light of recent non events (ie: nobody else did it), I decided to give it a try. Much of what you read here may be things you disagree with, some of the facts may be doubtful or even bloody wrong, and the quality or the writing, and thus also, the argumentation may be flawed.


Write your own bloody article then, don't come whining to me or anyone else.


Let's face it. In recent years we have seen some of the worst cRPGs ever released with titles such as: Dungeon Siege 1 & 2, NWN2, Fable, KOTOR, KOTOR2 and Oblivion.

The cRPG genre game designers need to sit down and think things through. They will not be able to reach good sales figures by bribing gaming magazines for ever. One of these days they'll need to sit down and design a good game. So let's give 'em a hand.

This article will not discuss things so obvious that even a child should grasp them, like: that characters skills determine sucess, not the players mouse skills etc., etc. I will write this in (at least) two parts. Part one will pluck out the components of Fallout, while part two will analyze them. I may also build further upon these article, but then again, I may not be arsed.


Much of what is in here has already been established, and is old news to you. However this is an attempt to sum it up rather coherently.

Introduction.

I found my thrill......
on blueberry hill
On blueberry hill ......
when I found you
The moon stood still......
on blueberry hill
And lingered until......
my dreams came true

As Interplay released Fallout back in '97, it set a new standard as to what can be expected from a cRPG. Unfortunately, not many games have lived up to this standard. This may be due to either A: Developers don't want to make good games, or B: They are incapable of identifying the attributes needed to make a game good. (Yes, I am sure there are some C's, D's and even E's, but not here. Not in this article.)


Since I am such a naive person, willing to give everyone a chance, I assume that the cause is B: the devs are incapable of identifying the components of quality. This may be due to a failing intellectual level, or just pure childishness. However, being quite the helpful gent, I intend to help them by trying to define Fallout.



The Components.


The components of Fallout may (obviously) be considered to be what actually defines it. However, not all components are needed. Here we will attempt to pluck out the key components which make Fallout Fallout. The listed components are listed in no apparent order of quality or importance.


What immediately springs to mind, and should indeed be added to the list, is the setting. This does not mean that any cRPG expecting to be good must be in a PA '50s setting. It means that the setting must be well thought through, well defined and consistent. It takes more to develop a good setting than throwing in a few orcs or daedras and let fans write books.
Thus we add: 1. Setting

Even though the setting is, indeed, much of Fallout, it is not everything. A setting alone does not make a game. What struck me as brilliant with Fallout, apart from the setting, was the Dialogue. It was very well written indeed. But what really made it stand out was how it managed to reinforce the setting even more, and thus the dialogue sparked even more life into the world.
Our second entry is, as stated: 2. Dialogue

The next component that springs to mind would have to be "cause and effect": how the game world reacts to the actions of the player, and further increases immersion. This I consider to be essential for a good cRPG, and it is part of what makes the Fallouts so good.
So we add it: 3. Cause and Effect

As important as cause and effect is, it is nothing without the tools to enjoy it. The player needs to be able to choose his action to a degree which allows him to reap the rewards of cause and effect. With no freedom to cause, there will be no effect. This freedom encompasses non-linearity and open endedness:
4. Freedom, Non-linearity, and open endedness

Furthermore, in order to make a game successful, it is essential that it provides the player with a good character description system. Such a system does not only need to abstractly model a character, but also do it in a fashion that allows many options to make each character unique, and, while doing so, fit the setting and the combat. With S.P.E.C.I.A.L, Fallout did just this and much more. Please note that a good game does not need SPECIAL specifically; it just needs a good way of defining a character. In Fallout this way was SPECIAL, which is why we call the this part of the list SPECIAL.
5. S.P.E.C.I.A.L

And, to wrap it all up, you'll probably need a combat system that works well with the game system and the setting(weaponry & combat style). After all, much of many games seems to either revolve around or degenerate into combat. In Fallout this was Turnbased Combat, fitted with some neat death animations for shits and giggles. In other games it may be another style of combat. The Baldurs Gate series had a combat style fitting well enough to those games. Even Moron-wind and Oblivion had combat of some sort (even though that particular combat violated one of the basic principles of a cRPG, and also it sucked). So, since Fallout had turnbased combat, we add it to the list. I still feel the need to point out that it might not be turnbased for other games. What is important is that the combat system fits the character system, and the game settign etc... But in Fallout's case, TB is essential.
6. Turn Based Combat

Concluding the list
The list of components now identified as central to Fallout is, as defined by me (Mismatch):
1. Setting
2. Dialogue
3. Cause and Effect
4. Freedom, Non-linearity, and open endedness
5. S.P.E.C.I.A.L
6. Turn Based Combat


This list should, when brought to other games, correspond to the following list of what is important in order to make a good cRPG:

1. Setting
2. Dialogue
3. Cause and Effect
4. Freedom, Non-linearity, and open endedness
5. Core RPG system
6. Combat system

With the assumption that the components which made Fallout one of the greatest cRPGs to date can be brought over to other cRPG designs, we can state that these are the components required to make a well designed cRPG.


It is, as I often stated in the text, important to understand that in the cases of SPECIAL, TB combat, and the setting, the point is not that in order to make a good game these must be exactly as they are in Fallout. What they must be is well thought through, and well suited for eachother so that they will fit seamlessly together. The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.


This concludes part one.

Part two will discuss each of the components further, and how they manifest themselves in Fallout. And, if there is still interest after that, a possible third article will apply our component template on an acclaimed RPG and examine it in contrast to Fallout and consider how this game has (failed to) implement/implemented these components.


Please note:
It is very possible, or even likely that I have omitted some component(s).

There are 21 comments on this article. Comment on this article.

 

 
 
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