It's been a while since I updated ModDB, so I figured it's time to add something while we continue working on the mod getting it ready for release.
Oh man, where to start.
That's a lot of green!
And look at this, our Remaining Task List! So Green. Like a forest in spring.
Rick also has one of his own, but it's got more spoilers than mine.
We spent March 2012 to May of 2018 on the Main Quest, just me and Rick. Nobody else came to help us on the Main Quest in that span of time except Matthew Seddon for 3 months back in 2015. That was it.
BUT - after 5 years of non-stop (except 2014) struggle, Rick coded all of the Main Quests, by himself, and I got all the voice work done!
That didn't leave much time for Side Quests, however. And the Companions (there are 8 of them) are so intimately woven into the Main Quest that they would require a whole n'other chart! Not to mention characters that follow the player at certain times (or not) and have to be accounted for by scripts to track their participation (or lack thereof.)
So after May, when we made our final decision not to release early in July, while some quest scripts still needed fixing and a few loose threads made the plot kinda like, "huh?" We decided to announce October 23rd and fix things up, patch in the missing side quests that had never been implemented, and get those scripted and voiced. There was just enough in there that we need to fix and replace that it was worth it to wait.
We added in the two cut endings:
#1 -- Players who kill EVERYONE THEY MEET (as an Enclave Assassin-Stormtrooper, or as a 1 Charisma Psychotic who communicates exclusively in bullets from the main menu to the ending video.)
#2 -- Players who when confronted with a hard coded 1 Way Street want an alternative, we added an alternative branch that shows that, "oh yeah, obviously, this would end the story if I don't run away," with its own unique dialogue, a chance to try and escape your now inevitable fate with some fancy footwork, and an ending video should you choose to join the Dark Side / Trip into the hole on accident and end the world.
You know, happy endings.
So players aren't railroaded at the central point in the story in a mod that otherwise never railroaded you, to the chagrin of our coder and writer who had to figure out how to account for players literally choosing to randomly shoot main quest characters in the face! XD
We had 1(!) quest where we could be lazy and take the easy way out. Just a linear straight line. And no, I had to add another branch and circuit. :p
BUT! It's done! Now if the player is violent in Vault 18 they get ambushed by Vault Security (which was a game breaking bug, now it's a main quest alternative path) and they can be a coward and try to run away early before they pick a side (or shoot Vault Security, shoot the Enclave, become hostile to both and the story reacts as opposed to getting you stuck, another game break we needed to fix.) And, you can shoot the NCR, shoot the Raiders, piss them both off early in the story and still complete the Main Quest, (again, instead of getting stuck, the story reacts and comes and gets you.) The Enclave plans around you disobeying orders, and as a solo player you get picked up by the Big Bad.
I also took time to totally re-voice a few characters from 2012 and 2015.
Colonel Bragg, our narrator and Main Quest Ant/Protagonist (depending on how you feel about an Enclave vision for 'Merika,) got an overhaul.
He had our worst audio quality but best performance, now he has our best audio quality and best performance. We got new microphones, a the Lewett 550 and Blue Spark-SL, and they are just... outstanding... compared to our old Rode NTG-2. We're still recording to our H4n Handy via XLR, but instead of using Audacity, we've upgraded to Adobe Audition. Far improved.
My direction and editing make better performances, better writing, better audio quality -- I've come a long way since 2015, and while we still improvise a lot around the set and in post, I'm getting to a point where I'd be a safe bet to hire for a AAA dev team, writing, directing, and managing the technical side along with editing.
And I'm really glad we did this overhaul of some of the oldest and most corny characters. The side quests and revisions really took all the things we'd just kinda been living with and were a frustrating source of lowered quality, and brought them in line with what we can achieve in 2018 as opposed to being stuck in 2012 or 2015.
It's hard living with your dumb mistakes and laziness for 5 years man. :p
Yetti is no longer creepy at his daughter (unless you have Wild Wasteland,) and various other characters with obvious trash audio on the old mic setup have been swapped out and re-written so they fit the broader story that ultimately took shape at the end of development. <- That's the danger of jumping the gun on voice work too soon in the development timeline. Save it til the end, trust me. Do a few of your main characters for Vertical Slice to get the emotional feeling of your project, get a good feel for your casting and atmosphere for any promo stuff, then voice it again at the end. That way you can get that comfortable feeling of progress, but, if you see any problems, you have time planned to fix them.
We weren't adding any content before March-May -- all of the last 5 years since 2013, we've JUST been doing the main content. (You remember when we cut half the mod's planned content? Yikes.)
Now it's all about fixing bugs!
Dustin Wing from Realm of Dusk for Fallout 4 made us a little side quest for our Radar Point that ties into his mod, voiced by he and his wife. Martin Purvis (the man the legend) wrote us a side quest about a Wasteland Scout side quest for Wild Wasteland, and a Shi Banker, as well as helping address quest bugs in various vendors and other things, like writing Generic Dialogue for the Vault Dwellers, Survivalists, and Union City folk. All voiced now and in game, thanks to Mark Hickman's editing after I got them cast and recorded. Now that's all fixed and ready to go.
The Pass is HUGE, and I spent a lot of time, me and NafNaf_95, making a lot of nooks and crannies for modders to add quests, tell their own stories... and they more or less lay empty. Which is lame. (Make a player home out of them or something?)
It lends to a feeling of foreboding emptiness -- which is fine. The mod is kinda bleak at times and that fits the atmosphere and message, "the aftermath of nuclear war isn't pleasant."
But it makes a story on a landscape, instead of a landscape full of stories, as our Russian Translator aptly put it. Fallout is all about having a rich open world full of side quests tangential to the main attraction. Here the main attraction is so deeply branching and sprawling it takes over the complete picture, having so many branches that it is like a hydra -- you end one path and start another, often incorporating what would be a side quest into an alternate way to complete the Main Quest, as opposed to leaving those hanging and ending in a dead end that never affects the core story.
Which again -- >16,000 lines of voiced dialogue, for a non-linear main quest where literally going left or right at a fork in the road creates AN ENTIRE GAME'S WORTH OF ALTERNATIVE DIALOGUE. It's massive enough to keep you occupied for days, I just wish we had more side stuff to make it have that Fallout "explore and discover" vibe.
The Frontier has the inverse situation -- a parallel track of main quests that are linear, but a massive amount of side content sprawling across their world everywhere you go.
So you can play FNC, that shunts you into New Vegas at the end, then go play Frontier, and there you go, side quests for days. XD Let the sister project handle it, they've got enough side quests to fill an entire game.
I was super consistent with monthly updates in 2015, 2017-2018. It has been a just crazy journey.
June, July, and August were not Visual-Art related -- all that is basically done. So any pictures I would show you are end-game spoilers, and the ones that aren't spoilers are boring bug fixes. :p
Updating some of the hair using modders resources from Apachii, who was generous enough to let us use these meshes. A few people gave us grief over the years for "anime" hair, but #1 -- I don't watch Anime, #2 -- I was just not a very skilled 3D artist at the time :p, #3 -- Pony Tails exist, and the female of our species, traditionally, does fancy stuff with their head follicles (yes, even in a post-nuclear wasteland.)
So I decided to try and give a more lore-friendly look to things and try my hand at modelling hair in 2018, and hey, yeah, I'm not as bad as i used to be, and despite the engine chopping off our legs at the knees -- we can't add dynamic physics to hair meshes that operate on a radically different system than world objects, and the shaders are just... awful at handling layered alphas -- we still came out with better material.
We added in some Explosive corn, thanks to Zu making the mesh and texture for us! Part of a cut side quest. It's part of a pre-war experiment to make ethanol from mutant corn that went wild and the NCR now tends it for the same purpose, with explosive results. You encounter it after meeting Doc Marius, our only Brotherhood of Steel character (former, BoS, anyway.)
I updated a bunch of our foliage to have far superior meshes and textures that run better performance wise and look more like the plants they are based on in real life. These take New Vegas meshes, throw them out he window, and replace them with a mesh worth of a game in 2018. Much better.
And I've been going back to fix some of our old shields and melee weapons. The Vault 37 "Vault Vikings" got new voice work, new quest material, a richer backstory, and they are a lot more fleshed out now, not just using fire axes and hatches.
I wish I cold get the shields set up so they block incoming fire on their unique collision geometry, but it's again, GECK and Nifscope -- A 15 minute adjustment in Unreal or Unity, it'd take learning witchcraft to do here.
All of our ending videos are now done! :D
All the videos have been baked into format and are ready to play in game. They are ugly compressed, unfortunately. The publicly available RAD Video Tools are not the same as their pro tools, and, after calling them earlier in the year to see if I could buy a license and being informed that the software license would cost 10,000$ (and a scare where they might order us not to use the tools period since RAD is not licensed for modding, which was a rough phone call) we got that squared away and that project is done.
On;y took a call to two CEOs of legendary game companies. >_>'
And if you want to talk about legal scares, we're not even going to talk about June.
When a Vice President of Marketing tells a Vice News reporter to tell you to chill...
yeah that's a stressful day.
Now if we could just stop getting News Headlines like this...
Fallout: New California looks like the most ambitious Fallout mod ever
And it could go up against Fallout 76.
I like the praise, do not get me wrong, but...
I like Bethesda? That is one of the best game developing corporations ever to grace this planet.
Do I agree with some of their flabbergasting decisions the last few years? Fuck no, that's ridiculous. Who though that was a good idea? But overall, still, they're big damn heroes of mine, despite the misnomer that they cancelled F4:Capital Wasteland Project, that is NOT TRUE, they were very supportive and suggested Nathan get all original voice acting, he said no, and that is why the project was cancelled.They then got blamed for it, which is just, stupid and poorly handled.
As far as I know they have never C&Ded a mod. Ever.
That's pretty damn brave of them. The myth that if you don't "Defend Your Copyright" you'll lose it is basically the "Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles" of the copyright law world. (It's bullshit invented to make lawyers money so they can stay on retainer.) But lawyers reeeeealy lay that on thick, and ignoring their council is difficult when you've been taught to listen to them, "or else." O_O
Fallout 3? I loved that game. It's a big part of why I'm making FNC in the first place. It wouldn't be happening if Fallout 3 and New Vegas weren't a thing.
I would like Bethesda to like me. :p Maybe we'll get a job there one day! Or collaborate on a future project? I don't know, probably nothing will ever come of it, but I'd rather not be known around the office as "the guy who thinks he can do it better than us," which is not the case.
I hope Fallout 76 makes money hand over fist, enough to make Starfield fun as hell and maybe we'll get on top of Fallout 5 a little sooner.
Hell, Fallout 5 could be set on the west coast, starting in a Vault... maybe number 18... all about tying the events between Fallout 3 and New Vegas together with Fallout 1 and 2? Set 20 years before the events of New Vegas as the NCR expands Eastward, as they encounter a Raider Alliance, while the Super Mutants and Enclave try to to rise again?
I'd play that. Sounds like a great game.
Single player, none of this always online BS. >_>
And finally, talking about a new game!
I've been trying to start a new game project now for many years.
This crazy concept here, called Shadow Star, just didn't have the money to really get off the ground. I tried to start it up in 2014 when i began making art and doing the design for it, even found some interest in online communities of developers and financiers, but because New California wasn't done, neither in 2014 or 2016, I had to shelve it.
It would have been really amazing. You'd have fleets of modular starships, with an interior and exterior. On te interior it's a First Person Shooter RPG, basically if you played Fallout 3: Mothership Zeta, think along those lines of having face to face character interactions, but toss that inside of a Starship Bridge Simulator, kindof like Mechwarrior meets FTL.
Because the ships are modular, using talents I gleaned from modding Fallout and building Vault 18, I could rapidly prototype hundreds of new ships like legos.
That could even be procedural if we wanted.
Unfortunately, if we want to do it right, this is easily an 8 Million dollar game.
There was a contest for a Battlestar Galactica Pitch Contest back in April. I gutted the concept for Shadow Star and distilled it down, build a ship level, formed a team we met online, and checked to see if they were down...
...and they passed us over.
So, that pretty much killed it right there.
I spent June and July building another pitch, this one under an NDA, and tried to get it funded by a team of private investors, and they decided that while the concept was rock solid, that too was just too expensive and too ambitious. (They wanted something like a mobile game and I was just like... no.)
Maybe I'll come back to it in 5-10 years? I'll need some running legs under me financially and a full studio to do it with. That's a lifetime of building, and who knows what games will look like by then?
Luckily, I have a new Design Document. This time it's all mine, all my own IP, all my own material, and we'll go for crowd funding on it after FNC is released.
I'm calling it Project Morning Star.
It'll be a lot simpler that a FPS/TPS RPG.
We're going to make a top-down lowpoly 3D Survival RPG with heavy influences from Rimworld and cRPGs.
Morning Star is a Top Down Survival Role Playing Game, set in a sci-fi-fantasy universe mixed with primitive tribes, medieval empires, and the ruins of advanced alien civilizations. You begin the game freshly abducted from Earth and dropped off on a stone pillar in the middle of a lush wilderness with nothing but the random items on your person at the time. You must learn to survive in the wild while uncovering the mystery behind how you got there, why this advanced alien race abducted ancient human and alien species to live on a broken set of continents shipwrecked in deep space, and how you may be getting home. Find food, built shelter, craft weapons, set up camp, and form alliances.
You are taking a shower, walking your dog, reporting for duty, or arriving at work -- then suddenly you notice a strange red mist rising off your skin, then a beam of light fills your vision.
You wake up face down on a slab of stone in the middle of an alien grassland. A blue light fades, and reveals a wonderland of cracked nebula filled skies and a horizon that begins and ends in a broken edge.
Nothing but the clothes on your back; you must find food, water, shelter -- and answers.
You find others nearby as you wander. Ancient Vikings and Romans, Neanderthals and Cyborgs, and aliens, just as diverse and strange. Some are recent arrivals, like you. Others have been here millenia, establishing empires, waging war. This mysterious broken continent of Morganshir is orbiting a star surrounded by fragmentary shards of a world long ago ripped apart; with only relics to tell the tale of where it came from, who made this place, and why you are all here. You must build a tribe of fellow “Travellers,” and learn how to survive as you carve out a place for yourselves on the map.
So yeah, pretty crazy. But -- very fun.
I played Rimworld a little too much this year and fell in love with the story-teller mechanics and the emergent quests I could invent inside my own head as I played.
I wanted the health, mood, and emergent story needs of that system inside of a free-form Role Playing Game like Fallout 1 and 2. Tactical real-time combat, primitive survival, build camps and exploring a world full of towns and empty wildness in between...
Going back to basics.
New California was huge. 6 years worth of work. It let me build another story on top of an existing architecture, a unique situation.
If we're going to build an entire game from the ground up, I'd rather it be far, far easier than FNC. So making it 2 Dimensional, still using lowpoly 3D art, but kinda like Starcraft? Make building BIG, like, you can walk into them and the roof lifts away, and you're inside an explorable building. But make it modular, so we can plop down one of these modular buildings all over the map and either procedurally or purposefully add items and NPCs to it.
That would let me do all my 3D art magic, Rick can script quests 9we haven't talked much about it yet, finishing FNC first,) I can call Josh and Devil to do our systems, Thomas can join us on 3D art, as well as Jack on 3D art and VFX. Pablo and Martin on music. Mark can come write with me and develop characters and notes in the game's books. We'll have some voice acting that doesn't require facial animations since it's all top down -- yeah, cool, this is doable.
Still going to need 2 years or so to develop a game for early access as a sandbox with just the survival mechanics and emergent environment and political quests, but, that would help us repeat FNC's system. We release an empty but fun world -- the levels most done but the really complicated parts are walled off -- but the mechanics are fun and tell that emergent Rimworld like story cycle with much deeper role-playing elements to be discovered in towns and caves as you party moves across the world (kinda like Fallout 1 & 2 or Wasteland 2, but fully open like it's more Rimworld and there is no set-in-stone main quest, it's all about discovering stories already in progress before you got there and you interact with them like you would in Civilization, politically and by trade or war.)
That sounds cool to me.
What I need to get started:
- Got my Design Documents -- Check
- Concept Art! -- Ooh, gotta pay for that. All my guys are busy.
- Music for the new Pitch Trailer -- I have people for that, just need cash.
- Time -- Ha!
- Money -- Oh, yeah. That'll be a problem. Paypal, if you're feeling generous: Nexusmods.comI'm also planning to start a YouTube Vlog for Morning Star and a Patreon.
- Crowd Funding Campaign -- when we have art and prototype to show, yes. Cart -> horse.
I can get started on the 3D art immediately. I made that conceptual map up there. It's going to be a large 3D continent viewed with a camera locked above it, like a 3D map looking straight down, with dynamic day/night lighting and a star field behind it. Towns and Attractions will be little icons that pop up on the surface, and as your party travels the world, your icon will move. Kinda like Oregon Trail, but looking like the fast travel map in Skyrim.
That World Map will then zoom in to the Local Map.
The Local Map is where you play a little RTS style game, guiding your PARTY along the world by selecting waypoints or targets to attack, and issuing orders. You play the survival game there Don't Starve or The Wild Eight style there. You can also set up a CAMP, which becomes your temporary home base, or settle a TOWN, which becomes your player home.
You build up your town to gain influence and craft items, as well as survive long term. That's where you build Influence on the political map between factions. Set up caravans to trade between towns, and send your away-mission parties on quests that emerge as part of a dynamic story.
Maybe you need medicine for a rare disease your companion contracted? Maybe the Gehenna Warlords request an audience with your leader, and you must travel there or else they will turn hostile in X number of days? Stuff that throws a wrench in your best laid plans and encourages exploring the world away from home.
We try to keep the design pretty minimal, relying on the base game mechanics to make it really fun. Balancing the RTS-RPG combat and the Base Building will be interesting, trying not to sacrifice one for the other. We may end up just focusing on one or the other, but plan to have both at the beginning.
I just like the idea of having a home base that asserts itself on the world map in an RPG, and going from a starving, homeless, lost person from Earth, and building a small empire over time on a medieval alien world full of anachronistic cultures abducted from across time and space.
That sounds very fun, and I can do that with just 4-6 people. Hire freelancers for remote work to help fill gaps.
We can keep costs down, it'll be somewhat relaxing compared to a giant 3D open world game, and hiring people to work on it will also be easier, as these skills are more available below a AAA qualification record.
We also have a little movie coming out this year or early next year. This has been in the works for many years and is just about done.
I'm excited to show this one off too. That's several years of our 3D art. All original IP, all home made assets -- it's going to be very cool.
So yeah, exciting times for our little company.
We're gonna finish New California, BETA 200 officially releases October 23...
... wait, lets make that big and bold.
New California BETA 200 Officially Goes Live October 23
We might surprise you suddenly and do something special in September, but don't hold us to it. I need more time to wrap up the bugs on my list and make sure all the missing audio is patched, all the translation projects are done, all the copyediting is complete, yatta yattaa ahhhhhh. There's still a lot to do really quick before it goes live. Nothing at this point game breaking, it's exclusively down to "this needs to be fixed or it looks/sounds/plays weird."
Stuff you need a BETA test to start refining and fixing, as opposed to creative development, which is now done.
You know the date, and we're gonna make it. It's set in stone.
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Yes, it will be on Nexus: Nexusmods.com