FALLOUT - RTFM: Further Reading on the Game

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This is a thread for linking to online articles and sites that discuss Fallout in greater detail. Please bear in mind that, unless otherwise noted, these links may well contain spoilers.

- Mirror of the Original Fallout site
- The Fallout Wiki
- Fallout Gamefaq

forksclovetofu, Sunday, 28 September 2008 23:57 (thirteen years ago) link

My office printer thanks you.

forksclovetofu, Monday, 29 September 2008 20:35 (thirteen years ago) link

for everyone playing via gametap, you may find it worth your while to download a pdf of the original manual:


cankles, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 16:21 (thirteen years ago) link

The manual is really astonishingly good; I still haven't started the game, but I've "rolled" my character based on the explanation of how all stats work... and how many manuals leave you with a real world, more complete understanding of the ramifications of nuclear attack?

forksclovetofu, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 21:06 (thirteen years ago) link

It's definitely evocative. The game aesthetic (the match between the cartoon fallout man - ie: casual instructions for surviving a nuclear war - and the 1950s futurism) really begins in the manual. Not many games even ship with those anymore, but at one point, this reminds me, they were a very important part of the game experience. (Think about all the feelies that old text adventures used to ship with.)

Do you think that having the game span a digital AND physical existence changes it in some manner than just having it exist digitally? The weight and substance of the Fallout manual almost seems to usher you into the digital world. I wonder if its a serious contribution to the resonance of the game's setting. Then again, Bioshock has a pretty amazing game setting too, and I think my manual for that was 11 glossy Xbox 360 pages.

Mordy, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 21:36 (thirteen years ago) link

I was kind of thinking the same thing after printing out the ONE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE PAGE manual; I miss all the code wheels and cloth maps and spiralbound userguides. They gave you fair warning that you were about to enter a world that had been really thought out. I think you can make the analogy with LP covers and inserts vs MP3s; it does devalue the final product to strip it of all the pretty wrapping.

If I'm reading the manual correctly, you are role playing someone within the bunker playing the game to simulate what it would be like if you DID leave the bunker... am I right?

I have access to a major album release show from a AAA name in music and I've gotta say I'd rather go home and just play this. My character's not going to get started on his own!

forksclovetofu, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 21:51 (thirteen years ago) link

And somewhat more on thread topic; here's a great article about video game packaging, manuals and bonus material.

forksclovetofu, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 21:54 (thirteen years ago) link

I definitely have fond memories of clutching that original manual - it was actually a spiral-bound notebook. Not only that, but the humor from the game shines throughout the whole book, both in the Pip Boy illustrations and the narrative voice.

Nhex, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 05:47 (thirteen years ago) link


forksclovetofu, Monday, 6 October 2008 02:47 (thirteen years ago) link


JimD, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 10:35 (thirteen years ago) link


JimD, Friday, 10 October 2008 11:05 (thirteen years ago) link

Suddenly, they got Fallout. They grokked the mechanics and embraced the non-linear gameplay. They made peace with uncertainty. But more importantly, they built a relationship with the character and the offbeat but perilous world.


Even though I find this constant sense of aimlessness and danger unsettling, there is something of genius in the way that this experience of aimlessness communicated by the gameplay dovetails with the setting and narrative of Fallout. Your character has spent his entire life sequestered away in a shelter, where a form of society has survived in complete isolation from the rest of the world aboveground. The surface world of Fallout has been obliterated by nuclear war, and in the wake of this conflict all the order and regularity promised by social life has been wiped from the earth. In its wake only the barest rudiments of settled living have taken root-- small, largely lawless settlements, linked by hazardous trading routes. In the absence of the social contract that makes life predictable you face a world governed by chance, a world that is only accidentally susceptible to your talents and foresight.


Nhex, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 02:35 (thirteen years ago) link

Interesting articles those...they describe my experience pretty well. I think I just maybe have less faith in the designers. This wasn't the first game I've ever played where it wasn't clear what I was meant to be doing, or where the conversations didn't always seem to go in the direction I wanted them to, or where death could leap out of nowhere and stomp on me. It's just the first game of that type I've played where people have then turned round and said "but that's the point! It's meant to be like that!". And I'm not 100% convinced that isn't just a cop out. After all, everyone says that Fallout 2 (which I might still try, soon) "fixes" a lot of these issues. Would the designers have made those fixes if the issues had been intentional all along? I'm not so sure.

JimD, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 12:35 (thirteen years ago) link

That's a fair point, Jim. There's no doubt the sequel adds a lot of features that make the game easier to play, including a tutorial section at the start and much finer control over NPC behavior and equipment. The bad NPC AI in Fallout isn't something that can totally be forgiven, and this is largely fixed in FO2. The sequel is also much larger, with many more towns and quests, including ones that finally make use of those alternative skills (let's just say there's one or two really crazy things involving the Doctor skill). From that standpoint, it's a superior game, and it is as much blast to play through as I found the original to be. While I welcomed these changes, they also took some of that cohesive plot and gameplay design from the original game in exchange.

For example, the NPC design. When you first get a partner in the game, it's very odd compared to most games - you can barely control your partner at all, and you have to trade him weapons and equipment! I think it would have been relatively trivial for the designers to put in armor support in FO1 - it could have worked the same way each NPC has set types of weapons they can accept. But the designers intentionally did this to reinforce the idea that you are NOT leading an army - you're essentially alone out here. At first, the NPCs are incredibly helpful, when you're relatively weak, Dogmeat is an amazing companion! Through the middle section of the game, your character eventually becomes strong enough to equal and then surpass them. In the final section, while they might be able throw a decent punch, the lack of armor means it's almost impossible for them to survive, and you WILL watch them die, one by one - as they could never grow beyond their original strength. If you get to the end of the game, this idea that you, the player, have evolved beyond the "normal" human has a big significance in the plot, and without giving away spoilers, the ending and your final "reward" reflect these ideas.

Compare this to most games (including Fallout 2, where your NPCs have experience points and can level up) and you can see how rare this kind of thinking is in video game design.

Nhex, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 15:29 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...

Fun thread

Blind Diode Jefferson (kingfish), Tuesday, 23 August 2011 06:08 (ten years ago) link

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