We decided to gather up a little Q&A. An intense amount of thanks to the Fallout 3 Blog moderator Ausir, BraveRobot, and everybody for composing the list with me. You're all great, and I hope you prepare yourself for the hopefully great Fallout Online.
You can also view it here at the Interplay forums
What’s going on with the lawsuit?
I can't comment about any legal matters. Not won't, can't.
About the game itself... we're still keeping things quiet, but things have started to get locked down internally. We are making concrete decisions about game design, content, art, etc... Masthead and TF141 Media have been sending us all sorts of character models, animations and other bits of art for our comments. They are able to produce an amazing amount of work in a short period of time. Unfortunately, I can't show what they are doing. I can't show what we are working on.
However, E3 is coming up and news announcements/press demos/etc are often made around that time. Let me be clear, I don't know what is going to be shown, what is going to be talked about, _if anything_, but this is a good time of year to hear new things. I do know that nothing will be released before E3.
You're not the only one who would like to get some real news about this project.
Oh, and it will be using the Earthrise engine. That news has been released, AFAIK.
What will Fallout Online be rated?
It will be restricted to a certain age.
What will the music in Fallout Online be like?
We haven't announced anything...
It's been discussed internally quite extensively.
Are you going to get Mark Morgan to do the music?
When we get to that point, I'm personally hoping Mark Morgan is available and willing. I still listen to the score CDs occasionally. Fine, fine music.
Will there be a monthly fee?
Not up to me, I'm afraid. If I had my way, it'd be free, but these services require a lot of money to maintain (equipment, bandwidth/IT, developer's salaries).
There are pretty much two ways most MMOs are making money:
1. Subscription (usually monthly, with discounts for longer durations)
Advertising is a 3rd option, but it's really hard to generate enough revenue from just pure advertising.
Subscriptions are still very common, but you are seeing more and more micro-payment games.
Micro-payments usually mean that that game is free but not all content is available to free players. Usually, items, abilities or game events cost a small amount of money. The overall effect is that players pay as much as they want to get what they want out of the game. Want to play a little, you can play for free or spend just a few bucks every now and then. Hard-core players spend more (usually even more than what a monthly subscription would cost).
It hasn't been decided, but I would expect that V13 would be similar to the rest of the market.
What is Fallout Online going to be like? Is it going to be like WoW?
Show me a MMO developer that says they haven't played WOW, and I'll show you one that's lying. (Okay, I'm sure there are some developers that truly, honestly haven't played WOW, but they would be few and far between.)
WOW is the current industry standard. I'm not saying a developer should make their game based on WOW, but they should, at the very least, be familiar with WOW's content and mechanics. For any genre of game, it's important that game developers are familiar with the current crop of titles. I used to get reimbursed for my gaming purchases as a producer just so I could keep up with the competition. Neat.
Personally, I play all the new MMOs that come out, just so I can see what other games are doing. Most of the time, it's just for a few months, but I've played EQ, WOW, and COH to the elder game. Just for the fun of it. I've played AoC, WAR, EQ2, Vanguard, Wizard 101, E&B, DAoC, AO, SWG, AC2, EQOA, Shadowbane, and UO. I tried EVE for about 1 hour and couldn't hack it.
V13 isn't going to be a clone of any specific game with different graphics, but we're not going to make changes from what we think is best for the game just to be different. Let me put in another way -- we're going to make the best game we can that we would want to play. I'm sure that there will be similarities to other MMOs, the same way that CRPGs can be similar, but there will naturally be differences as well.
It is not our intention to just make a clone of game X. Our intention is to make a great game that stays true to source material while at the same time updating it properly for a great online experience.
Will there be vehicles?
A decision regarding vehicles has been made.
Will there be quests?
I think it's safe to say that we will have a variety of quests.
Will there be Fallout Online merchandise?
There has been some discussion of doing PV13 merch.
When will you announce more info about X, Y and Z?
We're keeping quiet until we have more definite details. We're still very early in production, and there are bound to be changes. We'd prefer not to announce game info and then have to keep making changes.
Myself and my co-workers are just working on the game. I don't know what plans there are for public announcements. That's up to other people to decide. ^_^
What will the viewpoint be? 1st person or 3rd person?
It will be 2nd person. ^_^
Second person? What is that??? Sounds shiny...
It was a joke. Really. ^_^
Will Fallout fans be able to pick this up and play it right off the bat? Or will there be a learning curve?
It's going to have a whole new user interface, but we don't want to have a long learning curve to learn how to play. A long learning curve to master the game? Fine. But, we'd like people to jump right in and start playing.
When will Fallout Online take place? Where will it take place?
The exact setting (place & time) has not been announced.
Will Fallout Online be released for my console?
We haven't released any information regarding what platform we'll be on.
How will player death, respawning, etc, be dealt with?
Death is death in the Fallout world and there are no Resurrection spells or magic wands that bring people back to life. The Master in FO1 was on one path to immortality, but even he wasn't immune to 9mm (or plasma rifles, whatever your weapon of choice was.)
We have a pretty good handle on how we handle player character defeat in PV13.
[Notice the use of the word defeat in the last sentence.]
In reference to how built-up the world will be:
One of the themes we will be dealing with is regrowth and rebuilding. After X amount of time (notice that sly dodge about the timeline), there is bound to be some amount of rebirth. We've had some long (LONG) discussions about how much of that we want to present, how much is natural and how much is man-made.
In reference to people complaining about the color of the sky in one piece of concept art:
The sky color in FO1 was only seen in a few cutscenes. We never really discussed the color of the sky, as the color of the ground was far more important thanks to our choice of camera angle in the engine. In fact, I cannot recall a single conversation regarding the sky color in FO1. The artists probably did, but it never came up in team meetings or amongst the designers.
Damnation Alley is a source that we used for inspiration for the original game.
We want each of the areas to feel a little more unique, and color palettes are a part of that uniqueness. We definitely don't want people seeing one palette the entire game. Major dullsville. Color is also used to impart emotions, and it's a tool that we'll be selectively using.
The skybox hasn't been decided on. We might have a common skybox for all areas, or specific skyboxes for each location, or smaller number of shared skyboxes.
We have a wall in the office covered with environment concept art; laid out in a similar manner as to the actual map of the game. When you look at the whole thing at once it's pretty cool.
Talking about the color pallette again:
One thing to keep in mind is that with Fallout 1 & 2, we were limited technically by our engine as to what we could display. Looking back almost everyone on the team thought that our palette choices were a little too limited. For V13, we're trying to have a little more differentiation between areas. That means using more colors than just shades of brown... ^_^
Talking about the internal wiki (This was in March 2008):
As some of you know, we're using an internal wiki for design & documentation control. I thought it would be fun to share the current stats:
There are 1,901 total pages in the database. This includes "talk" pages, pages about V13Wiki, minimal "stub" pages, redirects, and others that probably don't qualify as content pages. Excluding those, there are 660 pages that are probably legitimate content pages.
497 files have been uploaded.
There have been a total of 35,542 page views, and 12,021 page edits since V13Wiki was setup. That comes to 6.32 average edits per page, and 2.96 views per edit.
Talking about the motivation or philosophy behind making Fallout Online:
We're certainly looking forward to the next MMO from Blizzard (heck, we're looking forward to the next game from Blizzard; they make fun games) but we're not patterning V13 on any specific game, present or future.
V13 is exactly what we want it to be: a game we want to play. That was the overreaching design philosophy of Fallout and I think it served us pretty well there. By the very nature of game design, some of our design will be familiar to WOW players since we will be solving some of the same problems and trying to achieve the same goals.
Just because a game does something in a particular way doesn't mean we're going to do it. And just because a game does something in a particular way doesn't mean we're not going to do it the same way. We're making what we feel are the best choices for our game, regardless of what other games are doing. We're just trying to be aware of what our competition is doing.
We plan on introducing new concepts to MMO design space. We don't just want to retread existing designs. I've been a proponent for years of a certain game design feature that is just now coming into use. We planning on that feature plus others that no one else is currently doing or have announced. At the same time, we don't want to add cutting edge features just to add them. If they fit the game design, and the source material, then sure! But no feature is going in just because we want to add a bullet point to the back of the box.
We think that MMOs are just plain neat. While we still play single-player or minimally-multiplayer games, MMOs capture our attention as game players. One of our designers is eagerly looking forward to Darkfall (in fact, he took some time off this week to play it). We're not just developers, we're fans of the genre.
On group vs. solo gaming in MMOG’s:
There are some MMOs that require grouping for mid-to-late play (FFXI comes to mind) and almost all MMOs force you to group for the majority of elder play.
Personally, and I'm not sure how this yet relates to V13, I like a combination of solo/group/raid content, with different goals and rewards for each. I have almost always soloed my characters to high level and then joined a guild for a raiding, grouping with friends occasionally along the way. Pick-up groups can be heaven or hell, depending on the players.
Certainly, we are planning on the proper tools to make grouping as easy as possible, while still allowing solo players to participate.
I've seen some discussion here and there about how many players is anti-Fallout (or, more generically, anti-post-apocalyptic). I'd disagree, of course, otherwise I wouldn't be involved in V13. There are plenty of precedents for grouping and social organizations. Even the Road Warrior had allies during his cinematic adventures. In Fallout, NPCs were always available to join your group and there were plenty of social organizations that had a number of members.
My vision includes the lone wanderer, erm, wandering through the wastes and a team of individuals working together for a common goal (like getting a truckload of fuel past some raiders). In any MMO, there will be times and places that have more people than others (social centers vs. instances, for example). It won't be all of one at all times.
Talking about PVP
* There will be lots of PvP, but that won't be the only activity.
* There will be restrictions. Our vision of PvP requires player consent.
* PvP can occur pretty much anywhere in the world, but not all players can partake in PvP. This goes beyond the /duel command; there is a whole different system in play here. It's not the old EQ-style PVP switch. It's something new. We're just not ready to give details at this time.
* If you heavily commit to PvP, you will be rewarded. It will be risky, but the rewards are designed to make it worthwhile. If you'd like to dabble in PvP, you will still be rewarded and won't risk as much. We hope to entice more people to be involved in PvP, without making it a requirement.
More on player character defeat
There will be a penalty for "defeat". We plan on making it painful enough that you want to avoid it happening, but not so painful that you log out and immediately throw your keyboard and monitor out the window. Somewhere in between would be nice.
Repeated defeats will be more and more ***************. [EDIT: Oh, snap, the Big Idea filter caught that one, sorry.)
Are the developers listening to the fans who post on the forums? Does what we say affect your development process?
We try to read as much as possible, but lately, it's been hard to keep up with everything! ^_^
Some things are pretty locked down, like the combat system. We had a strong concept for the combat system from the very beginning. It's not FO1/2, and it's not VATS. It's a SPECIAL based system that works in a MMO environment. You can say it's specially designed for us. We never intended for it to be a FPS or pure shooter. Character skill and stats are very important to the combat system. Probably 50% of the equation. Character gear, player skill, decision making and timing make up the other half.
Like I've said in the past, what gets said here does influence us, naturally, but we do have a very strong vision for the game, so we're not rewriting it based on what we read.
There have been more than a few moments where this forum has made us realize that there was something missing (hey, it's a big game design, there are gaps here and there) or we could tweak it one way or another because we hadn't fully fleshed out that particular feature.
We've got our own strong idea of what the game should be, and we're confident in our skills and experience as game developers. But that doesn't mean we don't listen to the community. Honestly, however, I'd say that it's very difficult for the community to understand the game as a whole at this stage. When we get to beta testing, and people have a chance to play the game instead of discussing it in theory, it will be better for everyone involved.
Will Fallout Online allow mods?
I don't know if a final decision has been made, but I think the intent is that we allow UI mods, but not gameplay altering mods or scripts.
I saw a post or two about the naming of "Guilds", and hoping for something other than "Guild" as the name of a player-based social group.
Well, we tried. Internally, we called them something else. We set up wiki pages for the new name, all references in the design docs used the new name, etc... And we kept referring to them as guilds whenever we had a discussion.
Finally, we caved in. If people are going to call them guilds, we might as we support that.
So, our "guilds" are Guilds. Yar, it's not quite appropriate ("Faction" is reserved for something else, and "blankity-blank-blank", the name that we tried to get people to use, was stolen by another part of the design and co-opted to do something else), but it's what everybody uses.(1)
(1) Geek op-ed piece: It annoys me when a paper-and-pencil RPG calls the DM something besides DM, if fantasy, or GM if anything. A GM is a GM. It's not a keeper, or a storyteller, or a HPIC or whatever. It's a GM.
Will Fallout Online have a "Caravan" card game mini-game similar to the one found in Fallout: New Vegas?
I don't think we'll be using Caravan.
I'm wicked hardcore. Will there be server for people like me?
Permadeath and full-loot PVP are not going to happen. They have been discussed internally and we have no plans for either of those options.
Personally, if we had the resources, I would love to create a server with both options enabled. Call it Australia or something. (I kid, I kid! I love aussies!)
Does user created content and or art ever influence your concepts when you are sketching up a person, place, or thing? Have you ever based a concept almost completely off of user submitted art before?
This answer comes from Jeff Clendenning, Interplay's lead concept artist.
Your question is fair. Ideas come from anything and everything. Mostly the artists desire to make something cool and therefore we will use whatever means we must to create cool things. We however do not copy, we become inspired. So any and every piece of artwork, picture, physical memory of a vacation we have been on, every game we have played, every movie we have watched, and, not limited to, every book we have read is used as inspiration for our work. So that means that user generated artwork can influence a final design just as much as all the other sources listed above but may not always be the case. We use that which inspires and fits. And this goes for all artists in the concept field. We are people and as such we are bound by our experiences, likes and dislikes, and opinions that will inevitably shape our vision.
Fallout Online looks to be shaping up to little more than a WoW clone, a "safe" game that will take no risks and therefore will suck a big one. Whatsayyou?
I can't stress this enough... We're not going out of our way to make a clone of any game. We're adding the features and content that we want (and "we" means the development team, the executives are giving us a lot of latitude and freedom. Way more than we had even on the original Fallout.) If _some_ of those features are already in use by other games, so be it. We're not adding stuff to be like them, and we're not adding stuff just so we can be different. Being different just for the sake of being different is as silly as cloning another game and giving you a reskinned version of whatever the flavor of the month is.
We're doing stuff that we want to make the game that we want. It worked for the original Fallout, so I hope it works here, too.
How will Fallout Online balance PvP and PvE?
We're going to have content for solo players (you will be able to play solo all the time, you just won't be able to do everything), groups and guilds. Groups will have access to a little more content than solo players.
Think of it as a pyramid. At the bottom is the majority of content that will be accessible by everyone. As you move up the pyramid, it will take more skills, perks weapons, armor and friends.
Being able to solo is important to us. I personally want to cruise the wastes, looking for trouble and running away screaming like a little ghoul when I find it.
This is pretty long, so read all of it. It's a shame that the people on the Interplay forums posted it before me.
This might be the last update I'll give in a while, so enjoy!