ATOM RPG - The Fallout everyone wanted


True to an extent - although bear in mind he’s not saying those were shit games, they were still very good - but I think in terms of CRPGs (where the watchword is choice and consequence) he’s saying that they were dumber than the just-previous generation of CRPGs (Krondor, etc.), which weren’t so limited by having to display everything graphically, and had more room to:-

a) make skill options meaningful and interactive, as opposed to Potemkin skill shows, like most of the multitude of skills and abilities in Fallout, Arcanum, BG, etc. IOW, they were closer to tabletop or text games, where you could actually do wild, whacky and intricate things, because the game world for tabletop or text isn’t limited by having to be represented. (And actually to some extent, the “book” sections in recent games like Pillars and Pathfinder:Kingmaker are a good way of getting round that limitation, so some developers have obviously been aware of it!)

b) have richer and more interesting stories, where the world reacted to your choices in a way that made sense, rather than relying on what NC calls “graphomania” (reams of text that’s ultimately just fluff).

Personaly, I still think the idea that the original developer of the Bethesda open world RPGs (forget his name) had was the right one. Ideally, you want something like an AI DM who shuffles the furniture of an open world around you behind the scenes, in a way that reacts to your choices.

Either that or the option Neverwinter Nights opened up, which was to have someone be an actual DM in the videogame and shuffle the world around, inhabit NPCs to talk to you, etc., in the same way that a DM would in the tabletop setting. (I still remember fondly to this day playing a few sessions in a NWN creator world - it’s a whole other level of eerie and wonderful, when NPCs come alive and talk to you like real people and direct you in your adventure!) That definitely works, and should be explored more, I think - although there’s the obvious problem of malicious 12 year olds there :)

I guess Bethesda’s attempt was just too early, but eventually, I suppose, when we have “real” AI that’s smart enough to act roughly as a human DM would, that will be the ideal (in terms of a self-contained videogame, or by that time probably some kind of genuine, wired-in, all-enveloping 3-d virtual world).


AI often makes games feel mechanical IMO. The story ofttimes is also paper thin in these games. You need to strike a balance.


More of the Easter eggs. Iron Fist reference…

I headed to the vault leveled up a few times, got decent equipment, and after that the encounters started getting more manageable. I can take on 4 enemies now without too much trouble…


Which weapon skill line are you using? I’m using rifles and being able to craft a t3 craftable sniper was a huge boon in midgame. I’m still using that thing actually. 5 AP for aimed shot couples sooooooooooo well with my 10 AP build that no other rifle I found so far can match its damage output. When it doesn’t jam 3 times in a row, anyway.


Fidel is Rifle specializing and Im Martial Arts with Small handgun/SMGs. I’m hoping I get a katana at some point lol

I’m now level 8 and survived a group of 6 book burners…so that was a pseudo accomplishment.


I, um, killed a bug. Once killed two rats. I have…my fists. I had a machete, but apparently it broke. At any rate, it disappeared from my inventory at some point.I have an old rifle. But no bullets, and no one has any.


I admit, I didn’t play RPGs before Fallout :) I was 10 when Fallout came out, and it blew my mind (and second game even more). And now 22 years later, I still don’t think I played a game that had broader scope of meaningful interaction than Fallout 2/Arcanum (I am not counting Dwarf Fortress…).
But if Krondor and other older RPGs had it, fair enough. Unfortunately for me, I tried playing Krondor (and Dungeon Master) years ago, but their old graphics just doesn’t manage to get me immersed.


I think you’d need a level of AI beyond what’s currently possible within tech constraints to really pull off Bethesda’s original vision. You need something that’s analogous to a real human being having a fun idea for an adventure for their friends to play through, that’s roughly as smart as a human being would be in creating scenarios that have cool challenges, involving at one point or another, the use of every skill/power/ability they have, that it’s just within the party’s ability to overcome. It would also need to be able to have its NPCs converse with you in real time - in such a way that it passes the Turing Test at least within the simplified world of the game.

I think you do always have to have a few “story skeletons” so to speak, that the developers set up - there should be a main story arc with a few primary antagonists with particular motivations and goals, but other than that, what’s really wanted is a modeled world (including NPCs) that reacts “realistically” (in terms of the logic of the proposed virtual world) to your choices.

But since we’re quite a bit away from that sort of thing yet, I do wish developers would try the NWN route more. I’m sure there are lots of potentially clever ways of limiting possible damage from being randomly matched up with random malicious 12 year old DMs :) For a while I thought that was Larian’s intention with D:OS2, but nothing seems to have come of that.


Yeah, the only RPGs I played before Fallout were the Might & Magic games (3,5), Krondor (in which I never got to Krondor before dying), and Star Control 2.

So as far as I knew Fallout was the first RPG out there with choice and consequences. I loved it when in Junktown you could take the side of either of the two strong men you meet there, and how different the outcomes felt in the fate of the town as a result.

What were the RPGs back in the day that had so much C&C (choice & consequences) woven into them before Fallout? I’m very curious now. Was it the Ultima games? I’ve still never played any of those.


I have to admit I’m such a graphics whore that I can’t play those old games either, and while I’m old enough to have played the generation of RPGs prior to BG/Fallout/etc, I didn’t get into videogames until Doom, and then not into RPGs till a bit later. And the reason I got into Doom was because it was the first game that had a virtual 3-d environment. IOW, I’m a graphics whore with no imagination :)


Here’s Nerd Commando’s rant that I mentioned, he mentions a few but the only one I could remember him mentioning offhand was Betrayal at Krondor, and another game called Superhero League of Hoboken. He ranges quite widely in the rant, but I thought the point about the BG/Fallout generation of games being wrongly considered as a peak of the genre was the most relevant here.


Betrayal at Krondor, and another game called Superhero League of Hoboken




At the 3 minute mark, he mentions these games as examples of the true golden age:

Betrayal at Krondor
Quest For Glory 4
Ultima 7
Wizardy 6 & 7
Might & Magic 4 and 5

The only one I’ve played on that list is M&M 5, and the first part of Krondor. M&M 5, as far as I remember didn’t have any choice and consequences. It was a pretty straightforward linear open world RPG. I remember going to every single tile, exploring every tile that I could. But I certainly don’t remember the story, or any interesting choices. In the part of Krondor that I played, it was just a straightforward journey you make to Krondor, and you die along the way. The end.


Yeah dude is objectively wrong. Thanks for filling us in here so we didn’t all have to watch an hourlong video lmfao

(All those games are great! But Might & Magic, Wizardry, and Wasteland held up as games rich in choices and ways to solve problems beyond combat… hahahaha no)


Of that list I only played Quest for Glory 4 (and 3) which were wonderfully funny point and click adventures mixed with some RPG elements, but they were also nowhere near Fallout/Arcanum in possibilities.


In my final defense of his argument, bear in mind his rant is somewhat split between the C&C point (again, reflecting on whether it’s meaningful in terms of gameplay, to have lots of skills that don’t actually impact gameplay), the good story point, the good writing point, the realistically-responding world point, and several others. It’s a bit of a stream of consciousness, but I think he does make many interesting observations.

As I said, the basic takeaway from my point of view is that making good CRPGs is hard, but bearing that in mind and reserving a measure of kindness to developers for that reason, still and all, we should be more critical of what we’re offered and not believe the hype. That’s probably something we can all agree on :)


This is only one of two games to get this distinction from me:

Thumbs up recommendation, but didn’t technically finish the game because the last fight is bullcrap and I uninstalled. I can’t even think of a way to cheese that fight to my advantage.

FWIW the other game is Blackguards 2.


As far as I know, nothing on the caliber of Fallout. Which makes it hugely influential to pretty much every RPG afterwards that allow many different choices and solutions.

The Ultima RPGs were more and more becoming “open world” simulations with a story, while not strictly linear, were mostly about learning where to go and finding and collecting specific items in the world. The plot and solutions largely played out the same way. For example in Ultima 4 you had to follow the virtues in order to complete the game. If you played an evil character you were digging yourself into a large hole.


Oof, that’s rough. I had issues with Blackguards 1 overall (very hard game on average) so now I’m a little scared about seeing the end of Atom lol.

What was your build?


Rifles over 100 and all perked out, lockpick and technology.

I am a little curious about what (if anything) would have been different if I made different choices at critical junctures, but not curious enough for a replay.