Update 4–30–22 V1.1: So when doing updates to the Fallout Apocrypha, I’m going to do a few things:
- I will try and answer all questions posted in the comments (you can see answers there now). Some of these questions I may move directly into this post, but feel free to browse and see what interests you.
- Any additions I will try and mark with an “*” or an obvious inclusion at the beginning or end of this post.
- Topic Additions: Horses and Talking Deathclaws.
- Patch Notes: So this V1.1 fixes some spelling errors in the text, makes the Fallout 3 feedback easier to read, adds some additional explanation to some questions.
- If you want to jump immediately to the new topics, click here.
Many years before the Great War of 2077, specifically, the late 90s and a few years into the new millennium (2002, in fact), a time when all things regarding Fallout seemed to be going nowhere at Interplay, I worked on a “keep awareness of Fallout high (and also test out the community reaction to ideas)” series of releases called the “Fallout Bible.”
The Fallout Bible contained a lot of questions from the community, specifics about Fallout 1 and 2 development and design information, and other things that it seemed the Fallout community (you) would be interested in seeing.
And so is this — a living “Fallout Apocrypha” page. I’ve only recently been introduced to Medium, but this “page” is something where I’ll try to make a repository of all the questions I get asked, factoids, and other fun Fallout-y stuff that may have occurred during Fallout 1, 2, Tactics (which I got to see being developed and had some minor insights on), and New Vegas. It’s a much easier place to search for info than on most social media sights, so there’s that as well.
If you’d like, you can ask questions on Twitter: @chrisavellone or you can ask them in the Comments section. I’ll also likely be re-ordering this page and re-structuring its categories and potential sub-pages depending on if the questions and answers can be easily categorized (ex: “Everything about Stimpaks”).
IS THIS “APOCRYPHA” CANON? IS THE FALLOUT BIBLE?
Neither this or the Fallout Bible are canon, these just compile insights and factoids from development.
If you’re looking for what’s canon and what’s not, then the actual game content from the Bethesda/Bethesda-backed titles (F3, NV, F4, 76) are the sources you should refer to (F1, F2, Tactics are not necessarily canon).
* BUT EMIL SAID THAT FALLOUT 1 AND 2 ARE CANON
He did. This does not mean everything in Fallout 1, 2 (and Tactics) is canon, which I think would be a huge mistake.
In talks with Bethesda during development, it was pretty clear that unless a franchise lore point was actually mentioned in Fallout 3+, it wasn’t confirmed to exist. I think this was partially good and partially bad.
In short, I stick by “not necessarily” canon, because unless a previous Fallout element is specifically mentioned in Fallout 3, New Vegas, or 4, these elements don’t automatically exist by default.
For example, until New Reno was mentioned in New Vegas, it didn’t necessarily exist in the new Fallout timeline — but when it was mentioned, then it springs back into existence. It’s important to note that we didn’t mention much or anything about what happened to Las Vegas in Fallout 2, but in retrospect, it’s weird that such a big city exists when it didn’t seem to have even been present in Fallout 2 — but that’s how retconning and making new decisions works. Feel free to hate on it, but that’s the way it is.
OMFG DID BETHESDA LIKE, TOTALLY, SCREW OBSIDIAN OUT OF A BONUS ON METACRITIC???!!!
The “Metacritic bonus” if the game got above an 84 review score was something Bethesda offered above and beyond the New Vegas contract.
We didn’t ask for this, they offered it, and it was our responsibility to hit that review score. We did have to have layoffs at Obsidian around this time period, but the bonus from Metacritic wouldn’t have prevented that from happening.
HOW MANY PEOPLE FROM NEW VEGAS ARE STILL AT OBSIDIAN
As of 4/9/22, about 20-ish, I believe, out of an original team of ~70. The remainder either quit, were laid off, or were fired.
Before that’s a cause for alarm, however, many of these remaining 20 were key people in New Vegas’ development, and Obsidian also has Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain on board, even though both are on Outer Worlds (2), and Leonard and Tim are the original creators of Fallout.
* OMFG ARE LEONARD AND TIM NOT DIRECTING TOW2? CAUSE YOU DIDN’T SPECIFICALLY SAY THAT SO THAT MEANS MY ASSUMPTION IS TRUE
I have no idea, but because I don’t say something it can simply mean “I don’t know” vs. “OMG they’re not directors?!” I could try and clarify more, but there’s really no point beyond someone taking that and running with “OMFG TOW2 HAS NO DIRECTORS” which is completely asinine.
I BET YOU HATE BETHESDA FOR WHAT THEY DID TO FALLOUT
If anything, they kept it alive, and then added a much deeper layer of open-world exploration than anything we’d been able to do at Interplay.
Also, the marketing department at Bethesda had a much stronger push than anything Interplay could have made happen, and arguably helped Fallout enter the mainstream more than Interplay ever could have done. There’s a reason you’ll see Fallout shirts at Target, and that alone is a pretty big accomplishment (whether you agree that’s an accomplishment or not).
DID YOU PLAY FALLOUT 3
UH, WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT FALLOUT 3
My critique was:
:: Floodgates open ::
It’s a testament to the game that for every thing that initially bothered me, there was a solution or a tool to counterbalance it. For example, I was exploring Hubris Comics, dropped my Power Fist so I could haul some extra loot, then came back and couldn’t find it on the floor. Pissed. And then I remembered Dogmeat has the dialogue option to go “fetch” existing weapons in the environment and bring them back — so I asked him to go hunt down the Power Fist for me, and he found it in 5 seconds. Awesome. The game had enough options and tools at my disposal to ensure I was having fun no matter what the challenges, so I can’t ask for much more.
So here’s the list:
· Dogmeat’s breathing if you don’t adjust the sound sliders.
· The tiny model house in Minefield not containing anything special.
· Anyone armed with a flamer can kick my melee-specialized ass, and thus, can kiss my ass.
· It was confusing to find one’s way around Megaton, although it had beautiful set pieces and I got used to it.
· I played with a 4 ST character and regretted it, but it made me appreciate the ST boost from alcohol more (1st time I’ve ever considered alcohol a viable drug in any game system, ever) and also made me appreciate Buffouts.
· I suck at the Science minigame, which is a horrible confession for an English major.
· Thought Hubris Comics should have had more Grognak issues, although I really liked the fan mail and the text adventure game in there.
· Didn’t like not being able to kill Amata or Andy the Robot at the outset because I hated them both.
· I didn’t like that the first potential companion was a bad Karma companion and expensive, but then the twin goals of being an asshole and scrounging up a thousand caps became bait and a challenge in trying to get him — when I got Jericho, I felt like I’d earned him as a companion.
· I think Repair became too valuable as a skill, but it’s better than the special case it was in Fallout 1 and 2, so I’d rather that than it remain a broken skill (like Doctor in F2).
· Maybe because I’m approaching it from the development end, I didn’t care, but I think the level cap turned a number of people off, as did not being able to play after and continue the game until Broken Steel came out.
· Some of the locations I think broke the 4th wall (Dunwich, which I actually enjoyed playing, just not the premise).
So that said…
· Opening immersion and re-introducing you into the Fallout world. Fallout 1 and 2 had consistently broken or special case skills that were rectified in F3 (for example, Repair — and Doctor vs. First Aid in Fallout 2 became broken without a time limit, so Medicine was clearly an improvement).
· Fast Travel.
· Felt my skills mattered in general.
· The kitchen bell XP sound.
· I love radiation more in F3, it makes me pay close attention to the environment.
· I loved the Grognak text adventure game.
· I loved the Gutsy and Robobrain combat barkstrings.
· I liked the usage of the radio and the reactivity to the player’s actions — that seemed an elegant way of reinforcing your actions in the world as well as introducing a bad guy you couldn’t immediately shoot in the face.
· I liked a lot of the moments in the game, including suddenly being surrounded by the creepy Andale residents after entering the basement in town.
· I never thought a neighborhood filled with land mines would be a good adventure locale and I ate my words.
· Loved the juxtaposition of real world mundane locations and their change into dungeons (Campgrounds, Springvale School, Super Duper Mart).
· Liked tracking down radio transmission signals for rewards.
· This is the first game I’ve ever played where I was excited to see barricades.*
· Nerd Rage surprised me as a Perk — chose it by default at one level only so I could drop grenades on myself to increase my carrying capacity and found it surprisingly useful at saving my ass when I walked into an ambush.
· The Pitt DLC, especially the opening vista crossing the bridge, is incredible.
· Liked the lockpick minigame.
· The Arlington Cemetery actually hit me pretty hard, and as a location it really drove home the futility of war to me — just seeing all those graves with Washington DC stretching out behind it made me feel really bad.
· Loved firing my combat shotgun into a bus with 5 ghouls trapped on the Dupont Circle freeway below and watching the whole screen erupt in fire.
· Consistently being rewarded for exploring the environment — there were always at least three things to see on the horizon that you wanted to go check out.
· I didn’t think I would like Liberty Prime, but the Iron Giant aspect worked for me and made me do a 180.
· I liked the Brotherhood camping out at the Pentagon.
· The sign inside the portable bomb shelters made me smile.
· I liked the Time Bandits aspects of Mothership Zeta.
· Seeing Dogmeat on fire, and being so tough that he didn’t even care that he was on fire.
· Liked playing as a Psycho-using alcoholic and murdering caravan folks for things I didn’t even need.
· Thought beer was valuable as a ST enhancer to carry loot.
· Liked the Well-Rested Perk.
· Shishkebab rocks — tap and burn.
* Yes, barricades. I have never had anything but hate for barricades until this game. They block my progress. Fuck barricades. But in F3, they are filled with the equivalent of RPG candy — containers are usually embedded in the wreckage, which was a great way to turn something hated into a gaming loot opportunity. Good level design call.
UH, WHAT’S A “BARKSTRING”?
Different companies have different names for this, but it’s the “bark” (usually 1 line of text or VO) that floats above a character or they say without entering an actual dialogue window.
DID YOU PLAY FALLOUT 4
About 3 hours, then quit over a level design/encounter issue and haven’t gone back.
DID YOU PLAY FALLOUT 76
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT NEW VEGAS 2. COME ON. TELL US. NOW.
Nothing. Except it probably wouldn’t be called “New Vegas 2”.
I do think any such game would require Bethesda’s support, even though they are owned by Microsoft. I know people assume that Phil Spencer could simply force Bethesda to do something, but that’s not the pattern from the studios that Microsoft has acquired.
That’s it for now. Looking forward to your questions. If I can answer them, I will.
NEW APOCRYPHA ADDITIONS 4.30.22 (Version 1.1)
I NOTICED THE OLD FALLOUT BIBLE WAS UPDATED ROUGHLY MONTHLY. WILL THIS ALSO BE MONTHLY?
No. I will update this only when I feel like it.
BUT… MONTHLY UPDATES WOULD BE MORE PLEASING TO ME
I don’t fucking care. If you want to look a gift horse in the mouth, do it with something other than Fallout cause there ain’t no horses in the game.
SPEAKING OF WHICH, WHY ARE THERE NO HORSES IN FALLOUT?
There might be, somewhere. But the biggest reasons for no horses are as follows:
- They aren’t part of the game world (I mean this in the game mechanics sense). None of the Fallout teams had time to implement horses in the game, and realized it would cause a lot of game mechanic problems that we didn’t have the time or budget to solve (Bethesda probably has less of an excuse than we did, both at Interplay and Obsidian, we were always out of time and budget).
- The presence of horses would cause a lot of tech changes that we don’t account for in the environment, anywhere.
- People probably got really, really hungry at points in the Fallout timeline, and horses don’t usually survive that. You could also argue that dogs should be in this same category, but well… they’re not. All the dogs survived because they were led by an Eternal Dog Champion, Dogmeat, who would continually arise in a new incarnation every generation to protect lupinekind from extinction at the hands of humans.
- One of the Fallout 3 (Bethesda) level designers once did a presentation about environmental storytelling, and in it, he showcased a Fallout level design sample where it looked like someone had ridden a motorcycle over a ramp and crashed (this is a poor description, it’s been a while). The crashed motorcycle was a cool visual storytelling moment, but then he ended the description of that scene with (paraphrased) “…but what’s wrong with this picture?”
- After this, he then correctly pointed out why this motorcycle environmental set up, which was very well done and kind of funny for a player to find, was a mistake in the context of the game.
- It implies motorcycles can be fixed and ridden in Fallout, which isn’t shown anywhere else. The player certainly can’t do it, but they certainly would want to do it if they could. Normally, this isn’t a question, but as soon as you see that motorcycle scene, you suddenly do question it.
- Riding motorcycles is cool, so providing a hint that you might be able to ride one and then denying the player of that option is unfair, jarring, and reminds them the game world could have been more.
Horses are a similar concern. They may exist somewhere in the Fallout world in a vault or frozen or whatever, but their use as mounts, travel assists, and “tech” applications would have a big impact on the Fallout world that simply isn’t budget for or accounted for.
…BUT I WANT HORSES
And I want to ride a talking deathclaw, but we all don’t get what we want. Besides, like with talking deathclaws, it’s not my call.
JEEZ WHY DO YOU HATE TALKING DEATHCLAWS
I don’t hate talking deathclaws, I hate what they represent.
Now before you misinterpret that as me actually hating talking deathclaws, I don’t.
In the context of Fallout and what it means for player actions, I absolutely do.
So first off, the original creators of Fallout were pretty thumbs down on talking animals and when possible, I consider their vision to be the one to abide by, even if I wasn’t always correct in how I went about trying to follow it.
There is some support for intelligent animals in Wasteland, but not as much in Fallout. Now we included talking animals in Fallout 2 anyway even though they’d been explicitly axed in Fallout 1, and that was a mistake for the most part — their presence was either reduced to weird comedic value or was done in a way that raised lore questions.
It’s also important to note that none of the original visionaries for Fallout 2 had ever asked or laid out designs for their inclusions in the design docs for the areas they left behind before they quit Interplay and went to Troika.
Now, being the enthusiastic talking deathclaw advocate you are, you may be tempted to say, “well, that was wrong, and it’s always best to tear down what the original creators wanted because they are old and stupid and should be put to death so that their blood may be used to fertilize the birth of the new world order.”
Before you commit to that, though, let’s move on to the next, far more important point.
Second, the reason I take issue with talking deathclaws is it’s the same reason I hate zombie genre pieces where… after the protagonists have killed hundreds of zombies in gruesome ways… the zombie franchise creators then go to imply that zombies have feelings, are intelligent, can be cured, etc. This isn’t a bad idea by itself. The issue is that if you want the player to feel like complete shit for having killed hundreds of creatures that you might have had the potential to save and evolve, then I probably don’t want to play any game you design because you and I are miles apart on what “letting the player feel heroic” means.
Third, real mutant monsters in Fallout are rare. This is partly a game resource budget issue, but at the same time, if you care about the franchise feel, mutants are also not as easy to think up and keep within the “1950s” feel as you might think (the Tunnelers in Lonesome Road, for example, were based on Mole People from 1950s bad sci-fi). While you can “make up” rando mutants and Fallout allows for that (the Centaur is one that’s pretty out there), there’s usually franchise rules for how best to make these monsters.
So in short, Fallout doesn’t actually have a huge range of monsters compared to something like D&D, which means what you do have, you need to use sparingly.
Deathclaws are one solid monster type you can count on, they are the Fallout equivalent of fighting dragons (or more appropriately, a D&D tarrasque, since that’s what the original ones were modeled after and I’m surprised Wizards didn’t sue Interplay). Deathclaws were designed, just like the Shadowclaws in Wasteland were, to be super scary adversities you felt good after beating in a very tough fight.
If you take away that, then you’ve got one less badass monster in the wastes. That’s a minor point, though, and again, the main reason I don’t like talking deathclaws is because they have a huge potential to make you feel bad about fighting other deathclaws that were not designed to be saved. If the game revolves around you peacefully curing and evolving deathclaws, then no problem, but Fallout has never been about Deathclaw Evolution Rancher as a premise. If it is, then Talk Deathclaw to your heart’s content.
If you have a big issue with talking deathclaws, that’s fine, write to Bethesda and ask them to add it back in. Start a campaign. Sign a petition. Make it happen. But don’t fucking argue with me about it, because it’s useless, and I don’t have any say over it anyway.
As to Bethesda NOT including talking deathclaws on their own, it’s significant that they haven’t. It’s not because the endings to Fallout 2 were flawed, it’s because the idea raises some serious player franchise concerns. It’s no longer “fun” to fight deathclaws if in the back of your mind you think they can be saved. I think the radio-controlled ones in Broken Steel are about the closest to “intelligent” deathclaws you might find, but I didn’t play Broken Steel so I couldn’t expressly tell you for sure.