After seeing the demo at the press event, and after an excellent lunch, we were brought back into the theater to have an extended Q & A session with Todd Howard, Emil Pagliarulo, and Pete Hines. These questions were all asked by various members of the press who attended, and I have absolutely no idea who asked what aside from Adam Sessler so I apologize for that.
Q: What happens when your character levels?
A: You gain points in your skills (not specified if they’re automatic or assigned?) and on even levels you gain perks. The maximum level in the game is 20, mainly because the game has a definitive ending which is triggered by the main plot. They mentioned anywhere between 9 and 12 possible endings to the game, possibly depending on side quests and choices made during the main quest lines.
Q: Will the PC Version require Direct X 10? (what kind of computer nerd asked this?)
A: There was no direct answer that I heard, but Todd Howard expressed his distaste in games (Shadowrun) doing “bullshit” like requiring Vista. They noted that there will be the option for changeable font sizes on the PC to resolve some of the issues with menus that were encountered in Oblivion.
Q: Does all Radiation in the game dissipate over time?
A: There are a few events which cause extreme levels that will never go away, but most radiation from things like blown up cars (nuclear engines) and the mini-nuke weapon will dissipate given a little time.
Q: Explain more about the style of Dialogue / Storylines?
A: Again they stressed the fixed ending, with multiple possibilities, and that your actions throughout the game would determine how the main plot resolved. Also that your choices of dialogue can open up more quests, more options for places to go and things to do in the game. Emil really seemed to stress a high level of detail written into the game as far as Dialogue and Quest interaction.
Q: Are all versions (PC/360/PS3) at the same stage of development?
A: Yes. We were shown the demo run on a 360 because Todd claimed it, “shows better in the theater”.
Now, during the demo, there were many loading screens which displayed random stats from your time in the game, one of which popped up said, “Corpses Eaten: 0” Someone asked about this and Todd Howard seemed kind of surprised that it had gotten in to the demo, simply saying it is a “perk thing”.
Q: What is the main quest? (this person may have been sleeping through the demo…)
A: <Spoilers!> The main quest centers around your dad mysteriously disappearing from the Vault one day, and your quest to find him and find out why he left and where he is/has gone.
Q: How do the developers feel about a lot of “Fan Anger”?
A: Todd expressed that it is a “natural” natural thing, they attempt to treat it with respect and take it all seriously. He emphasized that because most of the development team are fans themselves they can easily understand a lot of what they hear/read from other fans.
Q: Explain more about the focus on Fallout 1, and not Fallout 2? Specifics?
A: Adult Content is definitely all over this game, but they wanted to get rid of some of the stuff from Fallout 2 that seemed to break the barrier (Monty Python references, etc). They feel that the second game is not serious enough, and that they are going for “feeling like an adult game, but not being cheesy about it”. Profanity has to be used correctly, it has to be used right and feel like it fits where it is.
Q: Are there mercenaries that add a Party aspect to the gameplay?
A: There are mercenaries, but they will not be controlled by the player.
Q: Explain the introduction sequences, playing at different ages?
A: <Spoilers!> The game starts in the Vault when you are born, and jumps forward a few years at a time in short sequences. You see a “gene-projector” at birth which shows what you will look like when you are older, and this is the segueway into character creation. They joked that the first hour of Fallout 3 is in the Vault, and the first hour of Oblivion is making your nose look right. Other sequences will take you through tutorials, and introduce you to the world in which these characters are living up until the age of 19 when the main plot kicks in. Liam Neeson plays the part of your father, but the character is wearing a mask until you create your character and his appearance is then determined procedurally from an aged version of how your character looks.
Q: Do enemies scale to the player, and what is the leveling system based on?
A: The leveling system for the player is based on Fallout 1. Not all enemies scale to the player, there are definitely areas of the game where if you venture alone or without protection of some kind you will easily die. The example used was that all Super Mutants are basically the same difficulty throughout the game, but that equipment like armor and weapons in different areas will make some tougher or some easier. You will not be encountering a mutant early on that takes one shot to kill and some later on that take 30 unless one is wearing 50 tons of armor.
Q: How big is the game world compared to Oblivion‘s?
A: The game world is 25% inside of the city of Washington, DC and the other 75% is made up of the surrounding wastelands (suburbs of Maryland and Virginia). In the demo we saw the character enter the area of Chevy Chase, MD. The entire game world is on a different scale then Oblivion‘s, there are a lot shorter sight lines and traveling will feel quite different apparently.
Q: Will there be a demo or beta? Are there any plans for downloadable content yet? Will there be fast travel?
A: No demo or beta, and no plans for Downloadable content yet. The game will be single-player only. Yes there will be fast travel, but they aren’t talking about it yet.
Q: Is there a Karma / Reputation system?
A: Yes, there is a sliding scale and a lot of focus was placed on the ability to be neutral on that scale rather then just good or bad. They have worked hard to create a genuine, valid gray area that you can complete a quest for someone one second and shoot a person’s face off if you don’t like them later on. Also it was discussed that doing certain actions / quests will limit your choices for opposing quests / NPC’s, unlike in Oblivion where you could simply complete all of the quests for all of the factions. This comes from the idea that the game has a definitive ending and should be replayed multiple times.
Q: Are there interactive vehicles? Can we kill children?!
A: No interactive vehicles. Todd replied to the child question, “do you want to be able to?” A long, and very funny/uncomfortable discussion spurned from this question but it really doesn’t seem like children will be killable in this game simply because of legal issues. (Seriously though…do you need to be able to do it?)