If you are a backer, you already received the good news. Wasteland 2 is here and it's live. Well, the beta, that is. To get the Steam code for it, visit the Ranger Center and grab it from the Donations tab. However, you ought to remember a few things.
As Brian Fargo explains in update #40, this is, well, a beta. That means a certain roughness will be felt around the edges. First, grab a copy of the Wasteland 2 reference sheet and study it (or print and make a paper plane if you prefer figuring things out on your own). Second, remember these points:
- The beta is for testing and as such has a limited scope. The beta is limited to Arizona and even then, certain locations were excised. The final game will have more, don't you worry.
- Some skills are not implemented in the beta, including Animal Whisperer, Silent Move, and (unsurprisingly) Combat Shooting.
- The user interface is still going through puberty, so expect hideousness as inXile helps it make through this tough period.
- The same goes for sounds. While Mark Morgan did a ridiculously good job on the soundtrack, some sound effects and voices are missing, temporary, or simply have yet to mature.
- Combat and economy are not yet balanced. Your mileage may vary, as will your life expectancy.
- The reactivity and connections between characters and settlements are implemented, but inXile will continue to refine and expand them. You can help! Feedback on the depth of the game and roleplaying mechanics is the best kind of feedback.
- Now, you may be wondering how to report the bugs or whether you're under an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). If you are eligible for the beta, you should soon receive an e-mail with login details for CenterCode, which will serve as Wasteland 2's feedback hub.
Now, you may be wondering how to report the bugs or whether you're under an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). If you are eligible for the beta, you should soon receive an e-mail with login details for CenterCode, which will serve as Wasteland 2's feedback hub.
Now, the Wasteland 2 beta is not covered by an NDA. That's right, you can record, write, post, and shout about the game from the rooftops (watch out for the heights, however). This also means that you can freely contribute to the official Wasteland wiki hosted on our servers. Here's a short FAQ:
Can anyone edit the wiki?
Yes. Just like the Vault, the official Wasteland wiki is free and open for all to edit. No, you don't have to register or sacrifice a Quartz townsman to edit. Just open a page, hit the edit button, and edit to your heart's content.
Should I register an account?
We encourage doing this. While you can edit anonymously, an account will give you greater privileges, such as no obligatory Catcha when adding external links, uploading files, and tracking of your contributions (for bragging rights).
I don't know if I can edit worth a damn. Should I do it regardless?
Yes, of course! Every bit of information added to the wiki helps create the definitive guide to the Wasteland franchise. The worst that will happen is that another editor will edit your contribution, adding categories, infoboxes, and generally organizing stuff. You will never be penalized or reprimanded for contributing to the wiki.
You mean the admins aren't bloodthirsty desert mutants that viciously protect the wiki as their pet project and eat people if they try to edit?
No. We don't eat people or chase them away (the jury's still out on us being mutants. Your edits are always welcome, as are your files, comments, and reactions. We're all Wasteland fans here.
Do I get anything for editing?
Fame and glory, Ranger. Fame and glory. We will also regularly feature articles, together with the names of their contributors, to give you bragging rights. Plus, you'll know you're building the official Wasteland encyclopedia.
It's been a while Rangers, so let's summarize the latest news, with a little help from The Guru.
- If you haven't read our preview of Wasteland 2, catch up.
- Chris Keenan addresses points raised after the first official demo.
- Chris Keenan explains the systems.
- Chris Keenan goes to space.
- Montgomery Markland speaks about the world map.
- Wasteland is available for purchase.
If you were looking at Recent Changes the past two weeks, you may have noticed a flood of information. Is one of the admins going crazy? Is he breaking apart Wasteland discs and pouring raw data into the server? The answer is quite simple. Kayahr, one of the technical experts behind the Wasteland Deconstruction project and author of the wlansuite of tools to break Wasteland down into its base components has graciously agreed to merge his wiki into ours. What does that mean for you? Here's the breakdown:
- A full list of every single encounter in the game, fixed and random. Of course, individual locations also have encounter tables provided (like Needles or Las Vegas).
- A template emulating the original Wasteland animation engine, designed and implemented by Kayahr. We're still working out the kinks in infobox implementation, but once we're done, expect to see a familiar effect on creature and character pages.
- Complete information on all shops in the wastes and libraries. This includes hospitals too.
- General overhaul and completion of pages about items, weapons, and armor for Wasteland, thanks to the immense amount of information provided by Kayahr's decoding of Wasteland files.
We've done the merger by hand, but with the amount of information imported, oversights are bound to creep in. We'll be ironing out the problems and patching the holes continuously, but right now, the merger can be considered nearly complete.
Once again, thank you Kayahr for your contribution to the Wasteland community and all of your hard work. You're the best.
PS: Kayahr has also made available a gallery of all the animations from Wasteland. If you're itching for a Wasteland avatar, pay him a visit!
Chris Avellone recently held a lecture at the Rezzed 2013 conference, detailing what goes into developing a game. Although the focus of the presentation was Project Eternity, Avellone used Wasteland 2 design documents to demonstrate the importance of good design. More precisely, the document belonged to the Agricultural Station, the first location players visit in the Arizona stage of the game. You can find the presentation here. Drop by Wasteland 2 Guru for transcripts of the design documents.
The image came with an interesting description:
Here is another portrait piece by another of the very talented concept artists.
These mad little guys wear bandoliers of mini-nuke grenades and if provoked, will charge shouting "To Titan!" before self-detonating.”
GS: Colin, you'd worked on numerous books and adventures for the Planescape setting, you took part in the development of Torment's storyline, and lately you've been involved in the designing of a post-nuclear world of tomorrow. Could you tell us in brief what were your responsibilities on the Torment team and what are you responsible for now as a writer on Wasteland 2?
Colin McComb: In 1996-99, my title was "game designer". Now, that title would probably be adjusted to "narrative designer"; though I was responsible for some mechanical work and some scripting, I was primarily responsible for developing characters, quests, and some items.
My work for Wasteland 2 is very similar to that. Right now I'm working on fleshing out a very polite cannibal cult and making sure there's plenty to do and experience in my particular area. I think there's a good depth of reactivity here, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays when it's implemented. One of the great things about the preproduction lead-time we have is that we'll have time to make necessary changes and get everything working just right.
GS: You've written books, you've written games - which poses the bigger challenge? Do you prefer to create worlds that come to life solely in the reader's imagination or interactive ones offering the support of graphics and sound?
Colin: They're both challenging, but in different ways. Still, I think I'm going to have to give the edge to CRPGs, because in addition to developing compelling characters, an interesting plot, and narrative threads for other supporting actors, you need to develop a game that reacts to the player's choices. Is the protagonist going to make certain choices? You'd better think about those choices, and about how far you're going to allow the player to go down that path. This is one of the questions we had while developing Wasteland 2: how evil do we want to allow the player to be? At some point, the story starts to go sideways. An organization like the Rangers probably doesn't look too kindly on a rampage killer, and we've discussed ways to implement what happens when the player reaches that point.
With fiction writing, you tend to have a lot more freedom. You're not constrained by hardware limitations or difficulty of modeling or scripting specific sequences. You can change your setting in the blink of an eye, and you can explore as far as your imagination can take you without worrying about having to generate art assets to back up the vision in your head. You can plunge from the heights of heaven into the depths of hell and take a rest stop in a place of machines and circuits, or take the viewpoint of an electrical impulse - all in the same story, and you don't have to worry about developing mechanics that support these shifting narrative styles.
On the other hand, fiction writing is a nearly solitary exercise. There's a certain joy in it, but it's also beautiful to work with a team and to see your joint vision come to life for a far greater audience than most writers get on their own. So I can't really pick one. They're two different animals.”
First, here is the list of attributes you can expect to find in Wasteland 2. Attributes are the starting values for your character traits. These are established when you create your character and can be different for each member of your party. Attributes are all passive, meaning that they won't be actively used in the world to solve issues.
You might immediately spot a few differences between this list and the original Wasteland. Perception has been turned into an attribute. We felt that perception tied into many other skills and played such an important role that it earned its position as an attribute. Also, there is this weird skill called Expertise on the list. Where the hell did that come from? Expertise is essentially agility and dexterity combined together into one package. We have defined it as the level of mastery of motions with your body and hands.
The following is the list of skills that can be used by the various party members.
- Alarm Disarm
- Animal Whisperer
- AT Weapons
- Backer Skill
- Bladed Weapons
- Blunt Weapons
- Brute Force
- Bullet Swagging
- Coin Crafting
- Cyborg Tech
- Energy Weapon
- Field Medic
- Pick Lock
- Silent Move
- Sniper Rifle
- Spot Lie
- Toaster Repair
And to close out the update, here is a sweet little portrait to whet your appetite. I'd like to introduce you to one of the Wasteland raiders, a nasty resident of Los Angeles.”
Animation in Wasteland 2 was an unknown for me, never having worked with the Unity engine before. I did know one thing in my mind though when we started: I wanted to hand-key the animations. It’s an ambitious goal of mine and one I hope fans appreciate in the end. It’s my feeling that I can bring more personality and flexibility to the animation, as opposed to using motion capture. Plus, let’s face it; as an Animator I will be more artistically invested in my hand-keyed animations. Even with the best motion capture actors you are many times stuck using what you have recorded. The unique aspects and camera of this game do present some good opportunity and challenge for me as an Animator.
One of the struggles as an animator in games is the animation system. A good system can make or break the look of the animations. The animation is broken into so many different pieces that if you don’t have some decent way of controlling that, the entire flow of the animation can feel off. Animation systems have evolved a LOT in the past few years. Wasteland 2 is not a controller driven game and many of these systems are designed for analogue input. I needed a simpler solution and I think I’ve found one.
Browsing the Unity store for animation solutions I found exactly what I needed. I am familiar with the use of an animation tree to drive in game animation states. Sage: Anim Graph Editor is a tool that allows me to intuitively build animation trees that drive the different states of the characters. This is all accomplished without me writing a single line of script. I have no talent for that, but Sage helps me overcome my inability to write script in Unity. I have built up one heck of an animation tree for our rangers so far, and I love the level of control I have over the flow of the animation. The Rangers have a lot of “states” they can be in, so being able to manage and build those states myself is liberating.”
InXile Entertainment posted Wasteland 2 Kickstarter update #19 which includes a new 5-minute music sample by Mark Morgan and some interesting info from both Brian Fargo and technical director John Alvarado on how the development is going and what the dialog system will look like:
We have been very focused on getting the writing wrapped up by end of October so that we can do a table read of the entire game. Things are on track for about 95% of it which will allow all of us to get in a room for days on end to step through the game play. We look for flaws in logic, world consistency, keyword consistency, adding personality, adding ways to solve problems, creating visual cues, extra word descriptions, etc. It is quite a bit of work but it is a process that creates cohesion so that it feels like one world. There is so much content that the only way to grasp it all is to sit in a room for days for everyone to absorb. And quite often the best moments will come from the random ideas that spring forth from it all.
As we weigh different approaches to a challenge, we attempt to gaze into the future and discern how the consequences of different decisions will play out with respect to design requirements (known and potential), content pipeline, run-time performance, and development time/cost. Fortunately, our engineering team has decades of experience over dozens of successful projects that help us make most of these decisions with confidence. So far we have made engineering strides on the following systems:
- World Map System
- Movement and Turn-Based Combat System
- Saved Game System
- Character Animation System
- Inventory system
- World State Tracking system
- Story Scripting System
- Localization System
We now have a player-controlled Ranger character moving with animation in a game-level and interacting with NPCs, triggering conversations and changing world states that affect future interactions. This is where we wanted to be at this time and we are right on schedule. Brian stressed to the engineering team the importance of having this ready by the time the writers are finishing up their level designs and story so we can begin implementing, testing and iterating. That priority and the desired iteration process informed some important engineering decisions.”
Today we are announcing an exclusive clothing and accessories line with the premier name in gaming and geek clothing. J!NX creates the clothing for the biggest franchises in the industry such as World of Warcraft, Minecraft, League of Legends and Portal 2.
We are excited to be in such great company with the other games that J!NX represents and for the quality product they produce. Wasteland 2 has a distinct visual look that lends itself perfectly to apparel.
“As a long-time fan of Wasteland, and a day 1 backer on the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter, I couldn’t be more psyched to be working together with a legendary designer like Brian Fargo and his crew at InXile,” said Sean Gailey, Co-founder and CCO of J!NX.”
Thwacke! is a consultancy of academics geared towards improving science literacy for the entertainment industry in general and the video-game industry in particular. Founded by PhD candidates in basic science research at McGill, our aim is to bridge the gap between video games and science in order to make their fiction creative, relevant, and immersive.
Our team has a shared interest in gaming and research with a keen eye on how their respective fields are portrayed in popular media. As both researchers and avid gamers, we believe we serve an important role in delivering quality science that enhances both story and game play dynamics for video game developers.”
Always wanted to work in the game industry. Never thought it would happen, but it seems I'm writing on Wasteland 2 from inXile Ent. Woo-Hoo!”— @Nathan_R_Long
Nathan Long is fantasy author. He is well known for his authorship of many of the Gotrek and Felix novels, along with The Blackhearts Trilogy and Jane Carver of Waar.
Colin is known as an experienced writer who worked for TSR and Black Isle Studios. His most renowned work includes Fallout 2 and Planescape: Torment. He is two-time Origins Award winner (for "Dragon Mountain" and "Birthright" campaign setting) and an author of more than twenty-five supplements and adventures for TSR.
Q: How did Obsidian get involved with the Wasteland Kickstarter deal? Wasn't it after a certain funding target was hit?
Chris Avellone: Well it started because Brian knew I was a big Wasteland fan. He asked for a quote for the website and then we talked about Wasteland and I told him I was a really big fan and I'd love to see a sequel. Then a week later Brian asked if I'd want to work on it and I said, yes I would. Then he asked if Obsidian might want to team up on it so we came to an arrangement there.
He wanted to look at some of our toolsets to see if any of our technology would be a good fit, things like the conversation editor, any other tools that might work better than Unity. Unity actually ended up being a better fit.
Anyway, it came down to me being the guy from Obsidian working on it and he's paying Obsidian for my time, even though I'd do it for free.”
The interview covers not only the second installment of Wasteland but also Obsidian's own South Park RPG and Avellone's thoughts on rebooting the Planescape: Torment franchise.
As it was noted in corresponding Kickstarter update:
Releasing a screen shot this early in the process is a new concept for me as we typically want to hone in every element before we show it. But based on the requests and our desire for fan input, we are doing so to solicit feedback on the basic look. Please keep in mind that we have not put in the particle effects and post-processing which will have a dramatic effect on the scene, and this represents just one of the various environments for Wasteland 2 so expect to see other quite different locales. Also, this particular camera angle is on the low end of a range that the player can adjust upwards to a much more top-down view, for those who prefer that style during game play.”— InXile Entertainment, Early Screen Shot and Website News — Wasteland 2 on Kickstarter