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There's some posts on the Bethesda forums from project lead J.E. Sawyer, striving to clear the air on some recent controversies. First off, he talks about the merging of the small guns and big guns skills.
In 1997, I played the original Fallout. Like the games that followed it, Fallout had Small Guns, Big Guns, and Energy Weapons. In F1, the gun skills were designed for phased obsolescence. If you tagged Big Guns or Energy Weapons early on, you would not be able to gain much, if any, benefit from it for a long time. Even back then, I thought this was problematic. Before playing the game, players could not know how content would limit the applicability of weapons. Ultimately, it came down to three weapons: the minigun, rocket launcher, and flamer. Large, with heavy ammo, and either burst or AoE only. In Fallout 3, the list of Big Guns was expanded to include the fat man, rock-it launcher, and gatling laser. In most situations, these weapons were all still at least mid-power at their weakest. In talking to people in person and online, and in reading online commentary, I found that people were also still unclear on what marked the clear division between Small Guns and Big Guns (and even Energy Weapons, in the case of the Gatling Laser). Certainly the UI could be improved to help with this (something we have already done for F:NV), but it conceptually was a sticking point.
When I was looking at Big Guns for F:NV, I considered that the list of weapons was small compared to any other weapon category and several of the weapons arguably belonged (or at least could be easily categorized) elsewhere. Moving the Big Guns to different weapon skills and dissolving the Big Guns skill would allow weapons like the minigun to remain as a powerful top tier weapon without needing to invent low-tier "Big Guns" that might further confuse the dividing line. Coming up with a wide power spectrum of Guns, Energy Weapons, and Explosives would not be hard at all. Since our skill point economy is more frugal (I'll delve into this another time) and since we do have Strength requirements on weapons (resulting in increased sway for firearms and a decreased rate of fire for melee/unarmed), where you invest your skill points and SPECIAL points is still pretty important. A fully upgraded minigun wielded by a character with high Guns and high Strength cuts down rooms of people like a scythe, even at relatively long range. In the hands of an unskilled, low Strength character, it sprays a lot of bullets all over the place.
The exact categorization of weapons in F:NV isn't rooted in the logic of transferable skills from real life, but it's arguable they never were previously, either (missile launcher/flamer/minigun, for example). The categorizations have more to do with being clear and consistent with definitions. It follows this basic pattern:
* Does it explode? It's an Explosive.
* Does it use Small Energy Cells, Microfusion Cells, or other energy ammo? It's an Energy Weapon.
* Does it use conventional bullets of some flavor as ammo? It's a Gun.
So while it's accurate to say that Big Guns no longer exists as a category, it's not accurate to say that Big Guns and Small Guns were combined. The weapons in Big Guns were divided among the other weapon skills.
I know not everyone will be happy with this re-organization, but those are the reasons for the change. I hope the reasons are clear, even if you disagree with the decision. Thanks.
Before being dipped in the vats, Tabitha was a female human. She continues to self-identify as female. Descriptions of her as being "in drag" are not accurate; FEV transforms female humans in the same way as male humans, leaving their appearance very similar.
Tabitha certainly has personality problems, but they don't have anything to do with gender identity.
EDIT: another comment from Sawyer on Something Awful reveals flamers count as energy weapons.
Also, weapons using flamer fuel as ammo are classified as Energy Weapons, mostly for overall balance in the lineup.
Another Dev Interview
A few more interesting Qs on Formspring aimed at Fallout: New Vegas project lead J.E. Sawyer.
Do you think that the view of video games as low art, or not art at all, might stem from the fact that despite being mass-produced, their media value is entirely Cult as opposed to traditional art which is non-mass produced with high exhibition value?
When a person classifies something as art (or not art) of any grade, the reasons are arbitrary. I don't find any value in speculating on the source of those reasons or attempting to argue against them.
Ultimately, I would rather spend my time making something new that a another person may or may not consider art than argue with them about why they definitely should consider what I've made before to be art.
Every Obsidian game has some kind of Reputation or Influence system. What makes that heavily abstracted, numerical system preferable to, say, tracking specific statements or actions that can have a more concrete effect on a relationship?
I don't think these sorts of systems need to be used for every character and group. In some cases, the number of inputs is so small, and their impact so large, that using quest variables makes more sense. Abstracted, finely granular systems make the most sense when the player has a lot of ways to influence a character's or group's opinions. If a character speaks to you often, or if you have many opportunities to perform actions that can influence the character's opinion in small ways, using a reputation/influence score is easier, more flexible, and generally less of a headache.
Connecting to the reputation/influence question, Obsidian's games always had a visible feedback, e.g. the '+1 reputation with XXX' pop-up in Alpha Protocol. Some would argue that this breaks immersion, what's your opinion about it?
People have different expectations of feedback clarity/immersion. Because character/faction influence often builds over time and cannot show immediate results, letting the player know when small increments are being made is a way for the game to indicate that yes, something changed based on what you just did.
Health bars can also break immersion, but being able to see health bars helps the player make tactical decisions. Some players would rather see the health bars and lose the immersion. Others would rather lose the health bars and retain the immersion.
Because I believe that game play should be the primary focus of a game, I will always push for more clarity/certainty if the mechanics of the game are inscrutable to the player.
One of our users at FalloutNow! provided us with new New Vegas stuff.
In the comming up GameStar is a new 8 pages big New Vegas preview with some new images and a lot new information:
New information (many spoilers!):
- Vault 21 is an underground vault and lies under New Vegas.
- The NCR has lost contact to the west and is demoralized and underequipped due to the war with Caesar's Legion.
- Caesar's Legion dominates New Vegas.
- The NCR was fighting hard against the Brotherhood of Steel for Hoover Dam. The NCR has won this battle, barely.
- The NCR troops at McCarren Airport lost the contact to Hoover Dam as well.
- The main task of the courier has been to deliver a package to Primm. Then he got ambushed...
- The small and big weapons skills are merged into one weapon skill.
- Every weapon that made some asplozions before (like the rocket launcher or FatMan), are now in the skill category Explosives.
- Repcon, a former rocket factory, is supposedly inhabited by ghouls. As of late, explosions can be heard from there all the time.
- Craig Boon, one of the possible companions, will attack the player, if he sides with the Caesar's Legion.
- The orbital laser Archimedes 2 can only be used once a day.
- New monster: Cacadores, they look like bloatflies with shiny / colourful wings.
- Something like Bobbleheads will be in New Vegas as well and it will boost players stats. What it will be exactly isn't known yet.