Fixing Fallout 3, Left4Dead, and BYOND

How to Fix Fallout 3

It’s interesting how many hits I received on how much Fallout 3’s ending sucks.   I thought my Warhammer Online PvP Guide was popular, and part of that was because I bandied that about some forums.  However, I’m getting three times the hits from Google searches specifically looking for “Fallout 3 ending sucks/sucked” and I didn’t tell anyone about my post.

To Bethesda, I say this: act now while your game is still on the radar.   It’s not that Fallout 3 is a bad game, it’s that Fallout 3 is a great game that becomes a complete let down at the end.  Sure, you’ll move Fallout 4 and the expansions even if you leave this problem unfixed, but I bet you would move substantially more if you made the time to finish Fallout 3 properly.

What would be the right way to end Fallout 3?  In reflecting on the earlier Fallouts, I can think of a simple answer: create some longer recaps that talk about what happens over the future as a result of your character’s actions in greater depth.   Why this is important is because those recaps served an important dual purpose.

  • First, they provide a powerful coping mechanism with being forced to retire the character.  A lengthy dialogue explaining the legacy left by your character is a satisfying payoff.
  • Second, it creates a meaningful purpose to replay the game so that you can better observe the results of your actions.  So I failed to save this city?  Well, lets play again and this time we’ll create even a better legacy.

See now why cutting the recap short was shooting the game in the foot?  It also wouldn’t hurt if it’s better explained that it wouldn’t be any different if Fawkes is used than if Sarah is.

A lot of people are hoping Bethesda will release a construction set for Fallout 3, but there’s been no official announcement that one is forthcoming.  It’s just as well, unless somebody has Ron Pearlman on speed dial, any fan-made Fallout 3 recap would end up feeling something like this.  Besides, if it doesn’t come from the official source, most people won’t even hear of it.  Bethesda has to do it, and they have to do it right.

Left4Dead Anticipation

The Left4Dead Anticipation consumes all.

Armed And Ready

They say the essence of suffering is attachment, so lets move from the Fallout 3 tragedy for now.  My next fixation (and hopefully one with a happier ending) is Valve’s Left4Dead, the second game I’ve bought for months (the first being Fallout 3) and which is due to unlock in about 24 hours (Tuesday early morning).

Why am I so excited about Left4Dead?  Well, I’ve discussed at length the coolness of the “Virtual GM” aspects.  This game is less a Half Life 2 total conversion and more an outgrowth of the concept of dynamic games in the mold of the Roguelike with a dash of Hollywood cinematic expertise thrown in.

Despite the largely static maps, here is a game you can play hundreds of times and never encounter the exact same game twice, and it’s riveting: each element of the game – whether it’s map, props, characters, or audio – are extremely well thought out and implemented.

The retail version expands the initial 2 maps in the demo to 4 “movies” (chapters) of 5 maps each, adds additional weaponry, and more.  The fifth map of each movie is a humongous boss fight.   In addition, there is a versus mode that allows players to play powerful infected characters, essentially adding an additional level of intelligent adaptive adversaries to the environment.

That’s worth $45 of largely-borrowed money to me!  As a discerning gamer on the cusp of becoming a game developer myself, this will probably be my last purchase this year.  Well, unless Heavy Duty comes out this holiday season, and the fleeting press coverage we get from that game leads one to suspect it’s had one foot in the grave for years.  Ah, it always hurts when the good ones get away like that.

More Productive Procrastination

Speaking of which, though this week has been perforated by frequent and annoying interruptions (e.g. my duly recognized responsibilities as a financial aid student) I was able to spend much of Saturday putting working into my BYOND game and all the good concepts for BYOND games that get away.

To an extent, my progress is very much a struggle with writer’s block, but I’m learning to cope with that.  The trouble is that I want to make the game perfect the very first run, but there’s too little of it done yet to understand what needs improvement.  A solution is to say that this is fine: one of the cures for writer’s block is to forge ahead anyway, spamming out crap and being willing to throw away a ton of work if I decide I’m going in the wrong direction.

For The Win

Like anything worth learning, practicing it is hard work that leads to personal growth.  It’s why, despite looking forward to playing Left4Dead on Tuesday, the very best thing I have going for me is this mess of a game I’m developing in BYOND.  It’s why I haven’t resubscribed to Warhammer Online even though my Fallout 3 fixation is largely stunned and confused from that wet mackerel slap of an ending.

Seriously, I think I’m learning more useful stuff just screwing around in BYOND than I am with my several-thousand-a-quarter University education.  It’s part of the reason I have such a hard time paying attention to classes lately.   It’s a pity the job market sucks right now, or I’d take some reasonably-well-paying part-time gig (just enough to pay bills and afford the occasional needed hardware/software) while I hammer away at becoming good enough at making games to sell them.  (Or at least good enough at making games to understand where I can find classes I can care more about.)

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