Will Fallout 3 suck?

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Postby The GoldFish » Mon Apr 24, 2006 7:25 am

Wow you really thought Oblivion was one of the best games you've played in the past few years? That's crazy! In many ways Oblivion filled me full of hate, but somehow compelled me to continue to keep playing it... till I just stopped one day (I'd done quite alot)

I think it's a good excersize, but more an example of what you forget if you are making a very main stream game game which is basically without a similar title in the same genre to compare with except its predecessors. There's so much wrong with it, althought many of these things are probably checkboxes, or completely unreleated, as far as the core engine is concerned, so provided they get the needed access to fix the stupid, then it's probably a very good engine.

I found F.E.A.R. to be a far, far more polished gaming experience. OK it isn't anywhere near as open as Oblivion, but it isn't anywhere near as sucky either. :P

As for Fallout 3, if you want to like it, hope it has people like the modders who've worked to improve oblivion's normal distance LOD textures at no performance cost (sorry, I don't have a screen shot of the many improved textures and normals), and the many others who're working to fix the numerous other flaws, rather than those who didn't notice this as being in any way concerning who actually got payed to do it. (I don't just mean in the graphics dept, I mean everywhere!)
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Postby Gravitron » Mon Apr 24, 2006 9:09 am

So, as you've said, the game itself is what bothers you - the content, not the engine.

Well, this is somewhat similar a case to NWN.
The game was garbage, especialy in comparison to BG.
The online play + modding community is what made it something worth the money you paid for it.


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Postby The GoldFish » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:19 pm

Yeah, except the capactiy for modding oblivion is pitiful in many respects. NWN has alot more freedom, as did Morrowind, I think. But even then, they both have their limits (NWN still has very low poly count models/environments etc)

Really, it depends where you want to draw the line on where the 'engine' begins - do you mean, on the one extreme, literally just the engine code and the new developers build their game around it, or at the other end of the scale, using the same basic binary and changing the data files (eg a 'total conversion', but, an actual total conversion - considering my above statement, this is probably quite unlikely to attain a different 'feel', although a lot that was origianlly within the scope of the game could still be changed by a large quantity)

However, either could still be viably used to create an apparently seperate game. My concern is how close to the former would you get? Could a developer use near-universal dynamic shadows if he wanted? Or turn off soft shadows? Maybe switch to a form of HDR which isn't bloated and prevents use of FSAA (on the PC at least)? Fix the apparently 1024x1024 limited LOD textures and binary distance LOD system? What about universal water reflections?

I slightly disagree with the NWN reference though, I quite enjoyed the original story, and the two addons, but also many SP campaign modules as well. I felt I had my money's worth to begin with (and I bought the original NWN twice)

If it wasn't obvious, the vein of my original post was 'so you really liked Oblivion, how come? It felt to me more like a badly performed programmers and content creator's excersize than an actual game', and was mainly directed at Stews.
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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:42 pm

I would love to hear some specific complaints. The graphics are far better than I have seen in any other freely explorable game. It is far easier to do extreme graphics in a FPS type game, where the view distance is generally very limited and the level size is limited. FPS games also don't have much in the way of AI (compared to an RPG). This frees up more resources for graphics.

My liking of the game, is to do with how well the game has been designed. The graphics look very good on my laptop (graphics set at low). Unlike Morrowind I am not interupted every 10 feet by a loading message (I still get the message, but it does not interupt game play). The conversations have voice acting (rather good voice acting in most cases). The combat system is much less annoying than in Morrowind. They finally figured out that even with lush landscapes, gamers don't want to waste time running (or riding) from town to town (the fast travel is very, very nice). They have horses, which virtually all RPGs stay away from. You can buy houses, which is very nice. The load and save times are amazingly short (this is feature is very well done). I suppose I could go on, but I think the idea is clear.

So many games these days are published in an almost beta form and have features that really distract from the game. I haven't found anything in Oblivion yet to distract from the game. The only significant issues I have are the mob level scaling (which is perhaps a good idea in some respects, but it removes much of the incentive to level up and makes it easy to outlevel your combat abilities in which case you can't kill anything unless you drop the difficulty significantly). The other is that the game doesn't generally quite elegantly on my system (it gives me a error message most the time after it drops out of full screen mode).
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Postby The GoldFish » Mon Apr 24, 2006 9:19 pm

Yeah, for me, the game scaling, the many, many crashes, the savegame corruption*, the immense freedom to do whatever you want, but anything you can go and do is totally linear, the combat system is alot better than morrowind, and still manages to not be very good, 1v1 combat is really easy, 1vMany can be nearly impossible, mainly due to the way blocking works.

RE the linearity, I wouldn't mind it if it didn't keep trying to be so open. My best example is a quest where you are asked to find out about some female thieves working people over in a local tavern, and if you're a woman they ask you to join, and the text dialogs when you get there simply won't let you join them - why can't I join them? It just, stands out more than it would normally.

Personally, I feel the game has been implimented quite poorly in terms of final gameplay experience, as if they had a grand scheme and then found they couldn't do it all, and kept alot of the things that really didn't matter so much, and lost a few of them which really did. As you say, it really is in the details, the problem is that many of the undetailed things don't even EXIST.

I'm *really* not talking about the graphics when it comes to enjoyment here - for a start, I run it all on mostly high but with a few things toned down, so, I mean, I don't enjoy it more than you did, and the blatent odd things like going to a pier, looking out at a rock with a lighthouse on, and not seeing any indication of the lighthouse in the water just stand out as well. Is it a vampire lighthouse?

*I got an interesting bug where if I save gamed inside a building, and then reloaded it, I wouldn't be able to move, my arms would float behind me, and the game didn't know anything outside of the room existed. In the end I revereted to a savegame near 10 hours previous, though quickly made the time back up.

Anyway uh, Sorry for the thread hijack :P
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Postby daset » Mon Apr 24, 2006 11:11 pm

The problem with Oblivion is that, similar to most megagames, there is not really much bad. Also as well, there is not much really good. Just another uber-polished game featuring nothing cool but nothing terrible.
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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:17 am

The Goldfish: I haven't had any technical glitches other than the exiting thing, so that bit doesn't affect me.

Personally I would generally rather see a feature not inluded in a game unless it is done well. If they left features out of Oblivion that they didn't have time to do well, then I commend them.

I haven't noticed that much linearity. I mean life is linear (you do one thing than another, then another, generally their are prerequisits for more advanced things, etc.). The number of options in the conversations has to be kept down simply for practical concerns. Until AI is far more advanced than it currently is, all possible paths have to be hand scripted. The number of paths grows exponentially with the number of choices at each point, so it is to be expected the number of possible paths is kept lowish. That said I have yet to see a game provide as many possible paths as Oblivion does. I'm not in any way saying Oblivion is perfect, far from it. I just think it is far closer to perfect than any other game I have recently played.
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Postby Gravitron » Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:18 am

And repetitive quests.


Goldfish, first, ignore Caboose (strewberrywhateverperson), he's all about eye-candy. Guy can't tell design from drawn pixels.
Second, nothing hijacking about it, was derailed the moment it started.
Third, my line draws on what basic core functions the engine is capable of, how open ended and modular it is versus hardcoded.
A total conversion can produce an entirely different game, if the core engine supports such features.
For an example, something simple: moving the GUI around.
Some (most?) engines have the GUI hardcoded to a certain specific location, whereas the certain buttons there are also hardcoded to a specific location.
So at most, by "conversion" or "modding" it means you can change its graphics - only.
That's hardly a robust engine (as said, though, a "professionaly" made game has deadlines and budgets, etc. so it can't go much beyond its own intended game's purpose).
A real, really good, engine will allow you to change the functions of GUI placements and their whereabouts on the screen, virtually, forming a GUI per your desired functionality.
That is just one example.
Basically, if I can pick up the game software (be it a standalone client or server/client) and modify around setting files to create a new feel, append content, etc. (not just replace, replace, replace, GFX/SFX) then I say that the game is modable.
While the infinity and aurora engines were quite stiff by many standards (most importantly, you couldn't break out of the core game), you could do quite a lot with them in ways of content expansions.
New creatures, items, spells, areas, AI scripting, lots of effects to work with...
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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:58 am

Umm. . . I'm the one who's mentioned the least about graphics. I play the game with all graphics on low so I am quite clearly not all about the eye candy. Again idiotic statements like this only make you look even more foolish. Personally I feel this has become worse than the beno thing.

No one here has seen the engine code, so none of us can know how truly mod-able it is. I would imagine the GUI is a layer on top of the engine (as most are), so it should be easily changible (to one with the source code). It doesn't however appear to be user mod-able like say the WOW GUI is. WOW is another very, very well done engine. However, WOW (being a MMORPG) is much simpler in terms of features than Oblivion (which doesn't have to deal with the massively multiplayer aspect).
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Postby The GoldFish » Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:09 am

I think the main problem is that, from an RPG perspective, I'm really far more interested in having, say a choice about what action I take in a quest or infact any input whatsoever, rather than, how good the voice acting is from the person who gave it to me. This seems to be different from the design philosophy that Oblivion had. I just feel like it fails at being an RPG which is fun to play, but succeeds in some ways in the graphics dept, and then fails horribly in the graphics dept too.

Yes, they have made a stunning world, have 100% voice acting, and all from (nearly) scratch, and that is a great achievement for an RPG due to the sheer amount of content that would imply. The problem is it's lost a lot of the things that actually make that so hard; all the different possible conversation choices, the different outcomes, are the things that usually what make RPGs special and worth playing. I just feel like a button pusher, talking to X, going to Y, talking to Z, but I have to go out and scour around to try and find the first button to push - many of my actions have no input on how the little things, or even the big things, turn out - unlike, say, an FPS where there's something there holding my hand telling me where to go, and I don't expect to be given a choice. In Oblivion, even the clothing/armour, weapon, and skill system has been dumbed down from previous TES games. To stop power building? To make it easier to make a character? Would be believable if they remembered to scale the game according to your combat profficiencies rather than, say, your alchemy skill. It's like someone didn't even THINK about it, and was too busy pointing at the shiny graphics. In one of the IRC channels I've been in, basically, most of the people who're there are quite new to TES were basically playing the stats in order to make a character that was able to play the game because they'd done a few sidequests before attempting the main one, and it was nearly impossbile to get into because all the enemies had increased in power, but none of their allies had, so they were on their own against 4 or 5 clannfear (which is pretty impossible)

That screenshot I linked to - take one look at that and tell me if you still think the game was well engineered. Did they forget that there's a world more than a few hundred meters away? Because they sure didn't put any detail into it at all. What was it you said about FPSes? heh

That actually sums up the problem I find with Oblivion right there, how (in that case litereally) short sighted the design was. A load of black spots on a white wall are far more noticable than dark grey spots on a light grey wall. Accept the limitations you're faced with and make that light and dark grey polkadot wall fun to watch.

They showed off so much of it at E3s etc, and built it up to be the RPG game everyone(?) wanted with awesome graphics, sound, and other content. The final product had the awesome graphics, sound, and most of the content, but just doesn't have any feeling in it, hence my earlier comments about what goes wrong if you forget what you were aiming for. If the features they didn't have time to do were the ones that made the game fun to play (for me, at least), rather than the ones where it looks shiny, then I have to say I really don't commend them leaving them out to meet a deadline.

I should point out I feel that the engine and featurelist used for Oblivion is a horrendous piece of poorly thought out bloatware. But that's probably wrong because I'm jaded against the poor (IMO) design decisions connecting the two, so, go figure!

And for the love of god, stop whinging at each other, the pair of you! Lighten up! :P
Gravitron, I already know of what'd be required either way. Hence why I questioned where on the line you wanted to do it. Cause like, you do understand there's a line along which you have literally the code for the hardline graphics engine and nothing else, the finished game platform, and all the places inbetween, like incorporating script interpreters, GUI layers (just supplies objects to the graphics engine), the AI systems, combat mechanisms, player developments, and all that jazz. Some of that stuff is as you say, to some extent is moddable with the toolset Beth gave out. If they sold their game engine to someone, they wouldn't just give them a binary the toolset, and a piece of paper with their permission on, now would they?

I should also add that Oblivion's GUI layout is determined by a selection of XML files. I also wouldn't say the engine determines the existence of buttons and possibly their placements, that would be deteremined by the final platform used to run the content (assuming that as much content as possible is external to the binary) - the engine would be about having the ability to move the mouse and and register clicking on stuff. Oblivion's problem is that, while you can change what IS there very easily, it's changing what ISNT there which is the problem.

Lots of games use the quake engines, do they all have the same GUI?

Anyway, any further responce from me probably won't be very verbose, I feel I've made why I have my opinion pretty clear, heh, I just feel so radically different about the game design to Stews I had to question!
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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:54 am

The GoldFish wrote:I think the main problem is that, from an RPG perspective, I'm really far more interested in having, say a choice about what action I take in a quest or infact any input whatsoever, rather than, how good the voice acting is from the person who gave it to me. This seems to be different from the design philosophy that Oblivion had. I just feel like it fails at being an RPG which is fun to play, but succeeds in some ways in the graphics dept, and then fails horribly in the graphics dept too.


That doesn't really have much to do with the engine though. It's more how they used the engine. I haven't yet seen an RPG with all that many options for quests. At least in Oblivion (as far as I have gotten) there are generally a good number of options for most quests (for instance if you have to get an object, you can persuade/bribe the owner, or charm him, magic, or steal it, or maybe even kill him). I think any more freedom than that is really beyond the scope of todays technology.

Yes, they have made a stunning world, have 100% voice acting, and all from (nearly) scratch, and that is a great achievement for an RPG due to the sheer amount of content that would imply. The problem is it's lost a lot of the things that actually make that so hard; all the different possible conversation choices, the different outcomes, are the things that usually what make RPGs special and worth playing.


That is the Elder Scrolls style. I tend to agree, but no RPG offers any real selection of choices. NWN and the Baldur's Gate games offered more varied options, but frequently it was just a good choice, a neutral choice, and an evil choice. Which is better than one or two choices, but you never were really able to answer as you wanted to. Again I think offering real choice is beyond current technology.

In Oblivion, even the clothing/armour, weapon, and skill system has been dumbed down from previous TES games.


That true. I don't mind it all that much, but I did like the way Morrowind had thing in that reguard. I also like being able to have a robe over my armor (which doesn't appear possible in Oblivion). The Iron and Steel armor looks great, but the highend armor looks rather horrid (as it did in the earlier games).

To stop power building? To make it easier to make a character? Would be believable if they remembered to scale the game according to your combat profficiencies rather than, say, your alchemy skill. It's like someone didn't even THINK about it, and was too busy pointing at the shiny graphics.


Yeah, that bit needs to be tweaked. Although it is a bit difficult to do. Your level determines your skills which affect combat abilities. I don't think pure scaling based on combat skills would do (although it would probably be better than going on pure level). They definitely need to take combat level into some account. The whole scaling issue makes things less realistic, but given that you have access to most of the quests from the begining and there is no progression from one area to another it would be hard to do area based character level like most other games do.


In one of the IRC channels I've been in, basically, most of the people who're there are quite new to TES were basically playing the stats in order to make a character that was able to play the game because they'd done a few sidequests before attempting the main one, and it was nearly impossbile to get into because all the enemies had increased in power, but none of their allies had, so they were on their own against 4 or 5 clannfear (which is pretty impossible)


Yeah, that bit doesn't work. I end up loosing pretty much all my allies unless I turn the difficulty down. Really the easiest way to beat the game is to do it a level 5 or so.

That screenshot I linked to - take one look at that and tell me if you still think the game was well engineered. Did they forget that there's a world more than a few hundred meters away? Because they sure didn't put any detail into it at all. What was it you said about FPSes? heh


There is really no realistic way to fully render the detail in the environment that far out. That is why most games have visual barriers to block line of sight or have very sparse terrain (see SWG). One of the first things I noticed in Oblivion was that the forrests actually had a realistic number of trees and bushes in them. Most games just put a few huge trees in to simulate a forrest.

They showed off so much of it at E3s etc, and built it up to be the RPG game everyone(?) wanted with awesome graphics, sound, and other content. The final product had the awesome graphics, sound, and most of the content, but just doesn't have any feeling in it, hence my earlier comments about what goes wrong if you forget what you were aiming for. If the features they didn't have time to do were the ones that made the game fun to play (for me, at least), rather than the ones where it looks shiny, then I have to say I really don't commend them leaving them out to meet a deadline.


All I can say is that as a big fan of RPGs, Oblivion is by far the most immersive I have played. If you have any suggestions of RPGs you think are better I would love to hear them. :)
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Postby The GoldFish » Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:35 am

You don't need to fully render things that distance, I didn't think I was putting across that concept - you need to supply textures and rough models that don't look like soup (which is what it originally does look like). There is literally a line of incredible detail, and then soupy no detail goo. It looks awful, there's no LOD ramp, it's just a binary, all detail / no detail situation, and I would prefer a far more graduated drop off, even if it means lower details in general, it would look infinately better as there wouldn't be a line through it. I mean, isn't that obvious? Do you think what they have there is better than a slowly graduating, smoother, softer decline in detail that doesn't draw attention to the fact it's there? Don't you think if you actually took a step back and just *looked* at the graphics the game had (on high or the 360), that would be the obvious thing to have done? No effort was ever made to hide that LOD line. Possibly, this is far less noticable on low detail, would you like me to provide an additional screenshot demonstrating this problem with greater emphasis?

PS, some people hack the game's ini file and DO render maximum detail at that distance for a short while, then replace the soup textures with a granularised version of the same one (ie, just adding aditional varience), and have tweaked the normal maps to provide less 'giant pixel squares of doom' shadows. These weren't done properly in the first place. Niether were the character models (especially female ones, they have incorrect bone structures, and massive mesh seams). If you bend that to be 'omg realistic females instead of super models' I'll stab you :P (that's what I'm after, realistic female bone structures, eg, not broad shoulders and large hands. This is because many RPG players are vain about their characters, yet no accounting was taken of this, you yourself complained about the appearence of the endgame armour :P)

RE the first bit, I was talking simply about enjoying the game there, not the goods/bads of the engine. If you think about it, you only have 2 basic ways of getting it, asking nicely or stealing it - you still NEED it - what's new about that? How you be nice is up to you, sure, but it doesn't feel special; the way you do it doesn't even matter, so why should you care? To me, freedom to do something any way I like isn't really a choice when it doesn't even matter what I do, I'm not choosing one over another for any real reason. Really, I suppose I'm looking for more consequences. You have massive freedom, and what does that freedom mean? Diddly squat, most of the time.

Just because offering perfect choice is beyond current technology, doesn't mean you shouldn't even try to offer a broad range of choices and outcomes. I guess you know that, but I guess you also feel they're offering as much as they can. Think about my example again, I wanted to join those thieves working in the tavern. They simply didn't make that possible, it wasn't a case of giving me some freedom. Do you see what I mean?

Ideally, I would like to very much seperate the concept of Oblivion having a nice game engine, and Oblivion being an enjoyable game to play. I am mostly only interested in the latter. I feel it would've been more fun if it hadn't been designed so poorly, and you feel it is enjoyable in part because it has been designed rather well, that's the disparity I'm trying to examine.

I'd suggest you play any modules/campaigns created by Stefan Gagne for NWN if you want to enjoy yourself, and haven't already. Unless you hate NWN. Am I saying these offer everything an RPG should, no, probably not, but I thought they were awesome to actually just sit down and play.
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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:44 pm

The HeX Coda is pretty good. But the NWN engine as good as it is, never made me feel as immersed as Oblivion. I think the biggest problem is that no one thought to compare the graphics of NWN to an FPS. Everyone was just glad they had 3D as opposed to the isometric 2D of Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. It was clear NWN was not in the same league graphics-wise as FPSs. Oblivion however is different. People are comparing it to FPSs. This comparison doesn't take into consideration that FPSs are 99% about the graphics these days. The development teams are specialized for graphics and know that unless their game shows a significant improvement over other FPSs sales will suffer greatly. This (and Morrowind to some degree) is really the first RPG to try and achieve graphics on the FPS level. It is expected they will not quite get there, but this is a vast improvement over NWN or any other RPG in terms of graphics. After years of playing RPGs minor graphics issues like LOD aren't a big issue for most RPG fans. Most of us have played pen and paper RPGs at somepoint which leaves everything to our imaginations, so a bit of pixelation or whatnot isn't really an issue at all. And as you said you can tweak the graphics to fix some of these "issues". I think the issue here is really that Oblivion has such good graphics that people are much more picky about the minor details.

The character modeling may not be perfect (I'll have to play as a female to see how bad that is), but it is a vast improvement over Morrowind (and is far better than virtually any game I have seen to date, especially for RPGs).

As for the theives guild thing, I can't say. However every game I have ever played had some issues like that. NWN had several similar bugs. It is a problem common to all games, so singling out Oblivion for them is rather unfair. Certainly they should be discussed, but we should not act like Oblivion is the only game to have such problems.
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Postby Mef » Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:22 pm

This (and Morrowind to some degree) is really the first RPG to try and achieve graphics on the FPS level
- Yeah sure and fuck GOTHIC & GOTHIC II huh?

OK, Gothic is shitty in the means of quests and character development, but it is still considered RPG. And although not using much polygons for models, terrain etc, still Gothic gave me the storngest experience of "being there" from all the computer games...
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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:38 pm

You could certainly argue Gothic & Gothic II do the same. There are a couple of other games that are in a similar vein, but most have some significant short comming. I did not include either mainly because the modeling is so poor in general (not many polygons) and the texturing is certainly not up to the level of Oblivion. Gothic and Gothic II look more like FPSs from the mid-nineties. Oblivion on the otherhand has many elements of modern FPSs.

I do think Gothic and Gothic II are part of the movement towards more realism in RPG games. We are really seeing a merging of all game genres. RTSs are looking much more realistic as are RPGs and FPSs are starting to add some depth by having more RPG like plots and ability systems. The main genres of games were really established because a game could really only do one thing well. Now however technology has progressed to the point where a game can have elements of multiple genres in it and do each well. I think we are moving towards a time where a single game engine truly can be used for virtually all games. We are not quite there yet, but Oblivion's engine is close. This was really my original point.

If this is ever accomplished game developers can spend most of their time developing content rather than dealing with engine design. I think the result will be much better games.

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