Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Aftermath Mod" Status Update! Be A Hit At Parties!



Yes indeed! As by request,  I do believe it's time for some updates and to bring you all up to speed on the "Aftermath Radio" mod for Fallout: New Vegas.


Ah hold on...I saw that look on your face. You were bracing for some bad news, weren't you?  You were concerned the lack of news lately meant something had happened or maybe the mod was on hold.


No, you won't hear any bad news at all, in fact, just the opposite.   The mod is totally cranking full-speed right now.  I kid you not when I say I've been working each and every day (sometimes until 3am, no joke) on getting it complete and locking everything in.  Even on Christmas Day.  Trust me...my 5-year-old had Hexbugs and Minecraft...he didn't mind!  
As most of you who ever have done modding know, it takes a sick amount of time to make one.  In this case, it's kind of a "double-mod" because it's a fully features radio station AND a full-blown side-questline.  It's crazy how much time it takes to make this all work. I mentioned last time we were close.  We're even closer now.  So here's the status:


- THE RADIO STATION:  Ohhhhh nelly, was THIS a project.... I essentially revamped the entire radio flow.  You ever notice how Radio New Vegas starts to repeat fairly early on and kind of loses its flow after a bit?  I wanted to avoid this.  Some of the repetition I'm sure can't be helped but I wanted to try to push the bar way higher.  It was a pain in the arse, but I think I pulled it off.  Even despite a few GECK kit bugs.  Right now, almost all the dialog is recorded and locked. All of this was the majority of the time that this mod has taken.  This is why I've been off the grid for 2 months.  I had to take around 80 hours of recorded show and dialog, convert and re-edit them, and link them piece by piece into the GECK.  That's a frightening amount of editing.  I think you'll really dig what the extra effort went into, though.  I wanted this radio station to be done right.  I could have settled for having it just play non-stop podcast replays back-to-back, but I wanted this radio station to be something you want to listen to constantly.  Not something you'll get bored of after hearing the same thing a few times.  I wanted it to be dynamic enough to actually sound like Shawn and I are out there in wasteland broadcasting to you.  There are commercials, podcast episodes (I've divided each episode into 4 parts to help break it up a bit), random clips, and also the news reports.  And even some new intro skits.
  Oh, the news reports...speaking of other things that took alot of work.  This radio station has almost 70 news stories that play based on your current quests. Not just like Radio New Vegas, but even more.  Some of them will be similar, since they involve the major quest parts, but I've even added a bunch for smaller questlines such as the "Sunset Sarsaparilla Legend" quests and the "Tops Talent Quest".  You'll get a kick out of them.  You'd swear it was our podcast and we were reacting to what you were doing.  Like I said, I think you'll appreciate all the extra effort.


- THE QUEST LINE:  I tweaked the questline a bit...that's also been part of what took longer.  This story quest has essentially been a real-time version of our podcast intro skits.  It's insanely trickly to put an intro skit into an interactive form that keeps the action going without being annoying.  Things on paper don't always play well in-game.  Some of them you don't actually realize until you see it in the game and think "Frak, saying I'm not wearing pants sounded funny on paper but in-game I'm frightened."   When I ran the questline through, I felt like it was missing some things (no, they weren't pants).  So I went back and made some adjustments.  I feel alot better about it now.  I wanted it to have alot of the same humor as our intro skits, but also have an element of seriousness to the overall feel.  You'll really like the quests, if for any other reason than they fit into the overall Fallout lore and make sense.  I didn't want to just do a "kill the raiders" quest with jokes and all and be done...I wanted to add a bit of new content to the Fallout world.  All of the locations are based on real-life locations and are new ones you haven't been to yet in Fallout. More on this soon.
  Recording the dialog is almost done on this as well.  We had to record dialog for not only the overall script, but also the sounds Shawn and I do when we travel with you and fight.  So you have a ton of sounds just to have us be companions with you, like the "hit the deck!" things companions yell when you throw a grenade.  I also scripted alot of interaction to make things feel more realistic.  We'll be recording dialog with our post-apocalyptic guru-friend Megaton in the next week. If you don't already know who he is -- and shame on you if not -- he oversees the almighty "postapocalypticforum.com" and "postapoc.net"...so repent now and check the sites out.


  Oh, I didn't tell you Megaton is a main character did I?  Well, there's some teaser info for you.  Megaton is one of the main characters who helps start the questline and a big part of the story.

 So now the big question you're probably thinking.... how long till you can play it?  What's our release date?  Tough to say, since it's insanely hard to predict a timeline on a mod you're building (especially when you're a one-man-team) so I'm not sure I can give a definitive answer to that.  That said, I'll try.  I'll tell you what my personal goal is:


I want to have this in beta-testing within the next month or so.  And hopefully, in your hands, dear gamer, right after that.  So let's say.... hmmm...why don't we try for "before Easter" as a release date.  The majority of the mod is done, and it's just a matter of fine-tuning the rest, but you never know how long that can take.  


Does that mean something could happen that stalls the release goal?  It's possible.  Do I anticipate it?  I don't think so.  I'm hopeful this is going to click together just fine in this last stretch.  I've gone to some crazy lengths to make sure this mod plays nicely with a minimal fuss.  I'm hoping it pays off in the end with a smooth testing phase.  I suppose the main bugs that could likely pop up would be ones where I still continually have to work around actual bugs in the GECK kit and FO:NV engine itself.  But I remain optimistic after all I've done so far. Heck, I've got 4 times more dialog than Wayne Newton did in the game and that's sounds cool when I say that to people who don't know what that means!


The whole project has taken a while but that's always the game-design world, isn't it?  It's mainly because I want this mod to shine and I hope you all feel the same when you play it.  I think you'll feel that way.  If not, I'll throw up in my mouth a bit.


Watch for some more updates here in these last few weeks.  I've got more things planned to show you.  Also, if you have any requests for things you'd like to see, let me know.  


We'll talk again soon. 


 In the meantime...Stay alive out there!