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Fallout: New Vegas was pretty well liked by critics and gamers, despite some of its signature open world jank. But it was just barely not well-liked enough to earn the team at Obsidian bonuses, according to creative director Chris Avellone.
Joystiq reports that Avellone told a fan that Obsidian's contract with Bethesda only guaranteed bonuses if the game earned an 85 or greater in its Metacritic score. The tweet didn't reveal a deadline for the score, which has probably long-since passed. The game currently stands at an 84 on PC and Xbox 360 (82 on PlayStation 3).
"[Fallout: New Vegas] was a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn't," Avellone said. The tweet has since been removed.
These types of deals are fairly common in the industry, though. Publishers rarely acknowledge the practice, but the Wall Street Journal reported that publishers like Activision and Take-Two were utilizing it years ago. Critics have commented that developers have approached them about reviews, since the practice makes their work indirectly responsible for another person's pay.
This comes just a day after the news broke that Obsidian laid off 20-30 staff members, including ones from the team working on South Park: The Game. A canceled project code-named "North Carolina" was reportedly set to be published by Microsoft for its next console, and was called "desperately needed" for the studio.
Fallout: New Vegas lead designer J.E. Sawyer has reworked the balance of Obsidian's post-apocalyptic RPG, amping up the difficulty and tinkering to his own preference. Intriguingly, these changes come in a mod of Sawyer's making, not any official patch.
You can download the tiny 88KB mod direct from Sawyer. To use it, you'll need to have every piece of New Vegas downloadable content installed, including the former pre-order bonus packs. You'll also need Fallout Mod Manager or the like.
As for why this is a mod rather than a patch, Sawyer explained that as well as technical reasons, "some of the mechanics changes make the game significantly more difficult... or at least more of a hassle... I'd rather have people opt-in to those changes than make them the default in a patch."
He added, "the game's over. The ship has sailed. No one is working on it anymore. No testers, nothing. This mod is just me working in my free time. If I horribly botch something, you can just un-check the mod and go on your way."
An Ultimate Edition of New Vegas, complete with all of its DLC, is due on February 7.
Bethesda games have, simply put, not performed well on PS3. From Fallout 3 to Skyrim, PlayStation gamers have commonly experienced sluggish performance, especially as file sizes balloon up.
Fallout: New Vegas project coordinator Joshua E. Sawyer recently talked about the memory limitations on PS3, which may provide some insight to Skyrim's performance issues. The PS3 suffers when dealing with large file saves, an "engine-level issue" caused by PS3's restrictive memory.
"That can easily be a big problem, especially if you're on the PS3," Sawyer said on Formspring (via CVG). "The longer you play a character, the more bit differences on objects (characters, pencils on tables, containers, etc.) get saved off and carried around in memory. I think we've seen save games that are pushing 19 megs, which can be really crippling in some areas."
He went onto explain that "individual bits of data are tiny," but the thousands of them cover various data fields. "Over time, it adds up," he said.
Sawyer also says that the PS3's internal structure makes the problems more pronounced, due to the divided memory pool. He later explained that the Xbox 360 has 512 megs of RAM usable, while the PS3 has 256 for system, 256 for graphics. "It's the same total amount of memory, but not as flexible for a developer to make use of."
It's important to note that Sawyer works at Obsidian, and wasn't involved with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which uses a newer engine developed by Bethesda. The PS3 save file size was supposedly addressed in the latest patch, but is continuing to prove problematic. More fixes for the game are promised, as Bethesda continues to polish the game one month after release.
Now that the full slate of downloadable content has run its course for Fallout: New Vegas, Bethesda has announced that you can snag it all together in the upcoming 'Ultimate Edition.' The package is coming February 7 to North America (February 10 in Europe), and includes all of the DLC and associated level cap raises.
For those who might not have photographic DLC memory, those packs include Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, Lonesome Road, Courier's Stash, and the Gun Runners' Arsenal. The first four add new stories to the game, while Courier's Stash bundles the various pre-order bonuses, and Gun Runners' Arsenal adds several weapons and a new perk.
Additionally, each of the four mission packs raises the maximum level cap by five, raising it to a grand total of 50. Reaching that level should let you boost your stats and perks to the point that you'll be a walking murder machine -- unless you're playing as a decent human being, but where's the fun in that?
Fallout: New Vegas is a game about choices, political strife, ethical grays, and also blowing stuff up. With the attention going towards the recent Lonesome Road downloadable content, it's easy to forget that Bethesda teased a veritable truckload of new guns coming next week. Fortunately, we got a little reminder with highlights of some of the weaponry we can expect.
The Bethesda Blog shows off several new weapons, mods, and perks coming in the Gun Runners Arsenal, and that apparently isn't even the whole set. Among them are the Cleansing Flame and MF Hyperbreeder Alpha, two new energy weapons that riff on the Flamer and Recharger Pistol weapon types. The Sprtel-Wood 9700 is a gatling laser, and the Smitty Special brings an automatic plasma bolt caster.
New explosives include the Tin Grenade and Fat Mine, or you can build your own Nuka-Grenade. You can also use GRA Laser and Plasma pistol mods to make them more damaging, and the pack optimizes energy, fusion, and flamer fuel ammo types. Finally, the Mad Bomber perk enhances your explosives and crafting abilities.
The Gun Runners Arsenal pack is coming next week, September 27, for $3.99 to PC via Steam, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live Marketplace. That day will also see the release of all four pre-order bonus packs, bundled together for $1.99.
Bethesda Softworks and Obsidian Entertainment are continuing their steady stream of downloadable content for Fallout: New Vegas with the fourth add-on pack, Lonesome Road. The DLC is due on September 20, for $9.99 on PlayStation Network and PC (or 800 MSP on Xbox Live).
On September 27, you can round out your DLC collection with the Gun Runners' Arsenal pack ($3.99) and the four pre-order packs ($1.99 each). In the meantime, check out the Lonesome Road trailer below.
The fourth Fallout: New Vegas downloadable content pack 'Lonesome Road' is now slated to arrive on September 20, following its delay. On top of that, publisher Bethesda has announced two new DLC packs. One contains all the retailer-exclusive pre-order bonuses, and t'other packs stacks of new guns and ammo.
Lonesome Road adds another new area, natural disaster magnet the Divide, where the Courier will meet the original Courier Six. Bethesda hasn't announced the price yet, but it'll most likely cost the same as previous New Vegas add-ons, $9.99 (800 Microsoft Points).
Then, come September 27, the freshly-announced Gun Runners' Arsenal pack will be released for $3.99 (320 MS Points). Bethesda says that it "increases the range of unique weapons, weapon mods, ammo types and recipes" in New Vegas, so look forward to new and exciting ways to kill things. You can get a peek at some of these below.
September 27 will also see a bundle of New Vegas' four pre-order bonus packs released, priced at $1.99 (160 MS Points). This'll net you four low-level unique weapons and armor sets, along with basic supplies. There's nothing hugely exciting, except perhaps a water flask handy for Hardcore mode, but they'll give a good leg-up if you need one.
Hopefully that'll all be enough to satisfy your open-world RPG cravings until The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launches on November 11.
Sometimes legal disputes are settled out of court, but rarely are they settled via old-fashioned video game showdown. That's the solution proposed by Markus "Notch" Persson, whose company Mojang was recently targeted for legal action over the title of their upcoming Scrolls. Bethesda parent company ZeniMax claims it infringes on their trademark, due to its similarity to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
After returning from his recent honeymoon (mazel tov!), Persson blogged about his plan. "The only negative thing going on at this moment is the Scrolls trademark lawsuit nonsense, and I think I came up with the perfect solution," he wrote. "I challenge Bethesda to a game of Quake 3. Three of our best warriors against three of your best warriors. We select one level, you select the other, we randomize the order. 20 minute matches, highest total frag count per team across both levels wins."
And the prize? "If we win, you drop the lawsuit. If you win, we will change the name of Scrolls to something you're fine with. Regardless of the outcome, we could still have a small text somewhere saying our game is not related to your game series in any way, if you wish." And lest someone think this is Persson cracking a joke, he closes with: "I am serious, by the way."
It's important to note, though, that while Persson addresses Bethesda directly, the initial legal letter came from "a representative of the company ZeniMax Media." ZeniMax Media owns Bethesda and Quake-developer id, which should theoretically give ZeniMax an upper hand if the match were to go through.
Of course, the chances of anyone at ZeniMax or Bethesda actually taking on this offer are approximately 0.0%. But you can't fault a guy for trying.
Market research firm NPD Group's retail-only data for the month of July has been released, with Electronic Art's latest college football entry, NCAA Football 12 taking top honors. NCAA 12 sold the best this July, "realizing a 15% increase in unit sales versus NCAA 11 in July 2010." That aside, "video game sales in the new physical retail channel suffered its lowest month since October 2006," noted NPD Analyst, Anita Frazier. New sales are down four percent, year-to-date, with a projected year-end sales figure that's two percent less than last year.
Total game sales fell to $687 million versus $855.3 million during the same period last year.
Software "saw a 10% decline in unit sales versus last July," which isn't entirely surprising given that last July saw 29 new title releases, whereas this July, only 17 new titles were released.
Average sales per new release (excluding NCAA Football 12) were up 42%, however.
Compared to last year, console sales suffered the greatest dollar decline, which the report attributes to "a decrease in unit sales as the average selling price for console hardware was essentially flat to last year." July also marks the first month since December of 2009 that the Xbox 360 saw a year-over-year decline in hardware sales, though it's worth noting that the slim-form Kinect-enabled Xbox 360 was introduced last July, thus improving overall sales during the same period last year.
Growth in other areas such as "digital sales of full games and add-on content, mobile games, and social network gaming" could "result in 2011 showing growth over 2010," despite the decline in physical retail sales, the report surmises.
Top Ten U.S. Retail Titles (All Platforms) - Reporting period 07/03/11 - 07/30/11
(Note: The NPD Group no longer lists software for individual platforms. Sales for all platforms will now be combined when listed in the "Top Ten" and no figures will be released to the public from the NPD Group. Listing counts new physical retail sales only.)
Courier Six's secrets at the end of the Lonesome Road will remain unknown for a while longer, as Bethesda confirmed today that the final announced Fallout: New Vegas downloadable content release has been delayed. Lonesome Road now won't launch this month, as was planned, and has no firm release date.
"This isn't due to any major issue with the code or content, but there are lots of factors involved in releasing these things, and one of those is causing us to slip past our intended release date," senior producer Jason Bergman explained.
"We don't have an exact date yet, but we're working to get it out as quickly as possible. We'll be announcing the final date, along with a couple of other interesting FNV-related items in the near future," the Shacknews alumnus said.
Sounds like Lonesome Road has a flange overflow blockage in the bit-pipe widget, if you ask me. Lonesome Road was slated for a July release when first announced, but the New Vegas DLC schedule has been shaken up since then.
Players will walk the Lonesome Road to the Divide, a new, desolate area wrecked by earthquakes and hurricanes. You see, the original Courier Six has got in touch and promises to explain why he refused to deliver the Platinum Chip--which lead to the sucker player character taking the job and getting capped.
Still, Bethesda also released the first Lonesome Road screenshot today, so you can at least see the road now, if you can't yet walk it.