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“Fallout Online Debacle Takes a Turn for the Ridiculous” or “Post Apocalypse Postponed”

December 24, 2010 3 comments

It seems that we will never get to see Fallout: Online. Allow me to give you a crash course.

Fallout: A Crash Course (yeah I know I just said it)

Interplay created the original Fallout back in 1997, an RPG that, even now in 2010, is ranked by multiple gaming authorities as one of the best games ever created (PC Gamer’s 7th best game of all time, 2010). This was followed by Fallout 2 just a year later. Then Black Isle (the developer) and Interplay (the publisher) went dark on the franchise. During this time, Fallout 3 was being developed under the working title Van Buren. Interplay went bankrupt, and Black Isle, mid-production, was shut down. The license to develop the third game in the franchise was then transferred to Bethesda Softworks (the Elder Scrolls folks). Bethesda then completely scrapped Van Buren. They developed (and consequently released) Fallout 3 in 2009, and we all played and loved (hated) it.

The Rights for the Fallout MMO

Backtrack. In 2006, Interplay filed form 8-K with the SEC seeking to start development of a Fallout MMO. In April 2007, SEC filings show that the IP was transferred from Bethesda to Interplay for the development of the MMO under the following conditions:

  • Development must start within two years of the agreement date, April 4, 2007 (production allegedly started with Masthead Studios in April, 2008)
  • Interplay must also secure at least $30 million for the development of the project in said two years, or forfeit the license
  • The game must be launched within four years of beginning of development (that would sometime in April 2012; however Interplay President Eric Caen has already said it won’t be before late 2012 – uh oh!)
  • Once launched, Interplay must pay Bethesda a cool 12% of the sales and subscription fees

The Legal Wars

The lawsuit began in September 2009, with Bethesda suing Interplay over breach of contract, saying the development had not yet started. (As stated above, the agreement required Interplay to start development by April 3, 2009 – two years after the contract was signed. Interplay claimed it was already started in April 2008, a year earlier).

Interplay counter-sued, saying that interrupting is against their original contract (the one where Interplay sold the IP to Bethesda in the first place) and thus, that sale is void.

In December 2009, a U.S. District Judge rules against Bethesda’s injunction, allowing the development for the MMO to continue unabated, and most people breathed a sigh of relief.

In April 2010, Bethesda finally dropped the injunction appeal (demanding the MMO’s production be halted), but continued with the lawsuit. Interplay also remained adamant of its stance that the original sale had been violated.

The Latest Ridiculous Twist

If you have made it this far, you already know the situation is fucked to begin with. But today’s twist really puts the icing on the cake.

Bethesda now claims that the agreement they originally made with Interplay back in 2007 (as detailed above), only allowed interplay to use the word “Fallout”, and nothing else. Nothing else that has been already established in the fallout universe through the various games can be used in the MMO. There is ridiculous. Then there is bullshit. Then about 50 feet of pure crap. Then this latest twist.

That’s like Epic Games selling the Gears of Wars IP and then claiming, “you can use the Gears of War name, but you cannot use any of the characters, settings, story elements, the planet Sera, the Locust, chainsaw bayonets, macho tough guys or testosterone. Thank you, and have a nice day!”

Categories: Fallout Online

“There is Some Fallout in My Inbox” or “Armageddon Rag is All the Rage”

November 23, 2010 2 comments

Fallout Online continues to trudge on, despite being setback by a plethora of legal troubles. The Armageddon Rag, Issue # 3, the MMO’s official Pip-Pad-based newsletter.

This one had three separate tales to sample, Walker Road, On the Beach an Murphy’s Law.

Walker Road

This short story was comprised of the ramblings of a seemingly loony ghoul to his son, recovered from a holodisk found in the wastes. The near-delirious clip advises the son to show the rest of humanity that the ghouls deserved to have a place in society as much as the next guy. What I love about the Armageddon Rag is that it weaves lore right into its announcements and makes it all seem, well, seamless.

“So curl your shadow inside itself. Show no trace.

Until.

You will know. You have the eyes to recognize.”

Ghouls

  • First announced playable race
  • Bonuses to trade and engineering skills
  • Enjoy fixing broken technology
  • High radiation resistance and slightly better than normal Intelligence
  • Racial Abilities: Complaint Department and Geiger Counted
  • Racial Traits: Radiant One and Tech Wizard

On The Beach

The second entry in the Armageddon Rag is an incomplete story about Scribe Miller and his mission to find a set of tunnels that lead to the Glow. He is on loan to the Guardian Brotherhood of Paladins, and his mission also entails building bridges with the estranged Brothers. During the course of the story, the squad descends on an island that may have a tunnel network leading to the Glow. Shortly after arrival, they come under fire by a few mutants. They send one Paladin under cover fire to a cave opening, only to be attacked by a giant insectoid creature.

Just as Jenkins reached the cave entrance, a creature boiled out, a nightmare painted with a rainbow brush. Multiple legs scuttled forward, the segmented body, as tall as Jenkins in his powered armor and easily twice as long, twisted through the opening as the creature closed on the Brother.

Jenkins raised the Ripper. But before the weapon could make contact there was a flash of color from the center of what might be considered the creature’s chest.

The Brothers re-group, a little baffled by what just attacked them after seeing both the mutants and the unknown monstrosities retreat. It is then that they notice that a whole section of the sea had turned blood red in color…

The story then remains to be continued. But once again, Interplay has effectively introduced another entry from their bestiary, without being too blatant about it. And to their credit, unlike a hollow description of the beast and its abilities, I am genuinely intrigued by what the thing is.

Murphy’s Law

I wonder if either of them had real names? They must have. Who’d be mean enough to name their kid like that? Hey, Mr. Dweller, can Vault come out and play? ‘Course, that would make you leave home. Motivation’s a wonderful thing. I know I’ve got mine.

Could be worse. How bad would it be to get “Chosen Two.” You’re number Two, sit down and try harder. And then someone named “Chosen Too” – spelled the other way – will come to town for a showdown. Two against Too, the incredibly confusing fight with only two people.

“Shouldn’t there be Four?”
“Nope, he’s down the street fightin’ Chosen For.”

This third and final entry in the Armageddon Rag is quite hilarious. It is the recounting of an individual, all too aware of the heroics of the legends of the Wastelands, such as Vault Dweller and Chosen One, coming to terms with devising his own path in the new frontier, trying to forge a heroic tale of his own. In essence, it is a spin on creating a new character, deciding on his attributes and name and look and feel and weapons and abilities and rolling out into the post-apocalyptic world.

You can read the Rag here, it is hilarious, well-thought out, and a good indication for things to come.

Categories: Fallout Online, Preview