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Fallout 3: Tenpenny Tower

By Shamus
on Thursday Dec 18, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

 
 

So a few people have complained that the quests in Fallout 3 are shallow or nonsensical. Other people really dig them. Two common responses are:

  1. The quests in Fallout 3 are stupid compared to the earlier Fallout games.
  2. The quests in Fallout 3 are so much better than in Oblivion.

Let’s look at one of these quests.

Allow me to set the stage:

Ghouls

Ghouls are humans that have been exposed to high levels of radiation, and their skin has taken on the texture of dried, sun-bleached fruit. The game continually alludes to the prejudice that ghouls are subjected to. Some people are ghoul-haters, and ghouls have a hard time making it in the world because they are so shunned by humans. The radio occasionally has public service announcements that “ghouls are people too”, which seems to be clear to everyone except the ghouls themselves. They call non-ghouls “humans” or “smoothskins”. It seems that if anyone is selling the notion that ghouls aren’t humans, it’s the ghouls themselves. I know if I lost an eye, I wouldn’t say, “What do you want, human?” to every two-eyed person who spoke to me.

Making things more complicated is the fact that some ghouls really are monsters. Some ghouls are feral, and attack non-ghouls on sight. The problem is that the game never explains what makes normal, human ghouls into feral ghouls. I don’t expect the game to take the time to clearly define ghoul physiology. In fact, it would be compelling if different people had different opinions on where feral ghouls come from and you just had to decide for yourself who was telling the truth. But the game never brings it up. You can’t ask anybody.

Look, if some guy refused to deal with an honest African-American because he was afraid the guy would suddenly transform into a drug-dealing gang-banger, then we would all agree that the guy was a prejudiced lunatic. But Fallout 3 seems to be trying to equate ghoul-hating with modern day racism, and it doesn’t fit. As presented, it’s entirely possible that normal ghouls could turn feral at some point. We don’t know. Furthermore, Ghouls have been bathed in radiation and apparently retain a pretty good charge. Reasonable humans will want to avoid living with them for that reason alone.

Tenpenny Tower

Tenpenny Tower is a high-rise building in the middle of the wasteland, and is the nicest place in the game. Everyone else in the game resents the residents of Tenpenny because they’re all “rich”.

But what does that mean? Nobody in this game produces anything. Unlike in previous Fallout games, there are no farmers who eke out a miserable existence from the scorched earth. You can travel the entire wasteland in the game and not see a single farm, or garden, or anything else. (They have some cows, but it’s not clear what the cows eat.) Everyone just meanders about all day. People go to the bar at the end of the day and spend their money on booze, but the game never explains where they get their money, where their food comes from, or what they do for a living. (Or where the booze comes from, given the shortage of stills and raw materials.)

What makes the people of Tennpenny Towers “rich”? Their nice clothes? Their clean building? In that case, it’s pretty hard to feel angry at them. The rich people aren’t benefiting from ill-gotten gains from raiding, or slaves, or from cheating others. They’re just doing well. They do just as much work as everyone else in the world. (Zero.)

One the other side of the map, there is nothing wrong with the supposedly not-rich Rivet City as a place to live. They just need to sweep the floor and give the place a fresh coat of paint. Nicer clothes are plentiful and cheap – way cheaper than the guns everyone is toting around – so it’s not clear why they don’t forgo a single night of booze and use the money to replace their rags with some decent clothing.

Again, fine – the game doesn’t have to explain the economy of the game world, and it would be fine to hand-wave the whole thing, except that the game then turns around and expects us to care about this silly class envy / class warfare nonsense, and expects us to hate those eeevil rich people of Tenpenny Towers for… what? Washing their clothes? Sweeping the floor?

It’s a classic pitfall of roleplaying worlds: Don’t introduce more depth than your setting can sustain.

The Quest

The game presents you with the following scenario:

Roy Phillips is a ghoul who wants to live in Tenpenny Towers. He’s got the money to pay for a place, but they won’t deal with him because they’re a bunch of ghoul-haters. Roy vows revenge and storms off.

Note that nobody else in the game can buy a place in Tenpenny, either. And if you kill Roy he doesn’t have any vast riches. So he’s really mad that they won’t sell him an apartment which isn’t for sale and which he doesn’t know about for money he doesn’t have.

When you go into Tenpenny Towers, you find they really do talk about ghouls as if all ghouls were feral ghouls. (Then again, perhaps Roy’s aggressive nature is evidence that he is starting to turn feral.) They really do sound like a bunch of bigots, although in the grand scheme of things they’re still nicer than a lot of the supposedly “nice” people in the wasteland that are always threatening to blow your head off over trivialities.

Worried about Roy and his threats, they commission you to kill him.

Roy lives in some subway tunnels near Tenpenny. He’s protected by an army of feral ghouls (it’s not clear how he controls them, if at all, but they recognize him as fellow ghoul and leave him alone.

He plans to storm Tenpenny, kill the residents, and take over. You have three choices:

  1. Help Roy take over Tenpenny by opening an underground access door from the inside, thus allowing him to circumvent the fortifications around the building. This is clearly wrong. Hating people simply for being rich isn’t any better than hating people for being ghouls. Aiding in the murder of an entire building full of civilians is flat-out wrong, even if they are jerks.
  2. Return to Tenpenny and (if you’ve got the speech skill and charisma) convince them to mend their ghoul-hating ways and let Roy in. This is clearly wrong. Ghoul-hatred aside, Roy is threatening to murder his way in. This is not someone you want as a neighbor. Who knows what demands he might make once inside? This might be an okay choice for a nice ghoul, but letting a brute like Roy into Tenpenny would not improve people’s perception of ghouls, and would probably do more harm than good for ghoul kind in the long run.
  3. Kill Roy and all his followers. I wasn’t happy about having to choose this one. It would be much better to talk some sense into this guy rather than just blow him away, but that game won’t let you even attempt it. However, assuming Roy is set on attacking and taking over Tenpenny, then this seems like the least of the three evils from which we can choose. Actually, the game should let you just kill Roy, and leave his (two) followers alone. They wouldn’t do anything violent on their own. But the quest is set to trigger on the death of all three, logic be damned.
  4. Okay, you could also just walk away and leave the quest unfinished, which is actually the most righteous of the choices offered. The problem here is that the most sensible courses of action simply aren’t available.

It should be noted that Roy’s hideout is actually not bad by wasteland standards. It’s clean and safe (for ghouls) and certainly better than the shacks of rusty corrugated metal that many people live in. Roy is actually pretty rich himself compared to a lot of people.

The one thing you can’t choose to do – and the thing which I think makes the most sense – is to talk Roy into some other course of action. He has a decent place to live, but it’s apparently not good enough for him, and he’s willing to murder people to get better. Roy is the problem here, and the solution should focus on him. The game would make much more sense if it also let you attempt one of the following:

  1. Help Roy realize that his current place is actually pretty good.
  2. Tell Roy about the ghoul city, where he would be welcomed and which is very nearly as nice as Tenpenny. (I think it even uses the same scenery components. They just need a few more lights and a broom if they want to match the splendor of Tenpenny.) This is the most obvious solution. Roy would get to live in a fancy place. He’d be welcomed. They probably wouldn’t even charge him, meaning he could spend his heaps of non-existent money on something else. But the game will never let you mention Ghoul City, even if you’ve been there yourself and have friends there.
  3. Convince Roy to use whatever might he was going to use to knock over Tenpenny, and instead knock over a raider-infested hellhole in the wasteland. Use his caps to clean the place up and run it however he likes. This would make the world a better place all around, cut down on the number of safe havens from which raiders can operate, establish another safe haven for ghouls, and show the “ghoul-haters” that ghouls can do good.

I chose to defend the misguided people of Tenpenny and take out Roy, which was an evil act in the eyes of the game. The guy on the radio – the conscience of the game – even called me a “scumbag” and said I “butchered” ghouls. Apparently killing a man contemplating mass murder made me a… racist?

This isn’t just a badly written quest. This is reprehensible. According to the moral compass offered by the in-game karma system (and, one assumes, the game designers) being a rich bigot (where “rich” is simply a label the game hangs on characters without context, and “bigot” is a charge that may or may not be fair, based on how dangerous regular ghouls are to people) is worse than mass murder and theft. The people of Tenpenny weren’t oppressing Roy by taking anything from him. They were just refusing to do business with him. And since he’s clearly a bloodthirsty madman, they kind of have a point.

This is not the only quest that presumes to help us understand deep concepts like “racism is bad”. Elsewhere in the game is a den of very polite Vampires – humans that drink human blood to survive. They balk at being called “cannibals”. (Right, you’re not simple cannibals, you’re wasteful cannibals.) They seek “understanding”, from the player, despite the fact that their survival depends on a steady supply of victims to keep them alive. Once again the right/wrong karma arrow points sideways, and it’s wrong to kill them, but right to convince a nearby village to supply them with blood in exchange for being left alone. I guess it’s okay to hold a village hostage and enslave them if you’re very polite and claim to be misunderstood.

I guess if you just want to run around and shoot things then these quests are serviceable enough. But too often they’re trying to tackle grownup concepts like racism and class envy in their playschool-deep gameworld, and the result is laughable.



 
 
Comments (167)

  1. WysiWyg says:

    Actually, the vampire story did have a redeeming point. The deal was blood for protection, not from them but from raiders and the like.

    You could just tell them to leave the town alone, I assume they would.

  2. SimeSublime says:

    Spoiler Alert.

    What’s really interesting is if you let Roy in peacefully, he’ll kill Tenpenny at first, and then murder the rest of the non-ghoul populace – despite the fact that everybody else was getting along great. Even after he’s done all this, you still lose karma if you kill him.

  3. Nalano says:

    Since the primary economy is scavenging (and how do stores still have goods on the shelves 200 years after armageddon?), one wonders why slavery is even a problem: Who needs the extra labor for such a low-intensity task, especially considering it’s just an extra mouth to feed?

    Also, even if you take up the “good” routes – saving scavengers, defending townships, etc – you actually rack up a higher bodycount than if you actually took the “evil” routes. Raider and slaver settlements have dozens of people. Most “good” settlements other than Rivet City and Megaton have less than ten, usually less than five.

    Hell, you have an elementary school about 50 yards from the entrance to Megaton with a population the size of Megaton, and you wipe them out with narry a quest to commemorate the occasion. You’re the wasteland’s reaver.

  4. Varil says:

    Wow. You managed to point out the same two quests that managed to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    QUEST SPOILERS AHOY.

    I went for trying to convince the Tenpenny residents to let the Ghouls in. Mostly this was okay. There was an affable old hero type there that was on my side, several people who ranged from “Sure, why not” to “Eh, I don’t care.” And then a few people you had to either threaten or…actually that’s about it. You can’t get rid of them without actively being a jerk to them. They’re bigots, but they aren’t *doing* anything except being bigots.

    No matter, I figured, I didn’t like the guys and I’ll just do what I have to to get rid of em. So I tell them off, and tell Tenpenny the good news. Then I roll over to Roy and tell him. Then I head back to see how it works out. The first two ghouls are there, and being alright nonjerks about it, the residents are mostly content and…WHOA. What happened to Tenpenny? Roy killed him! That’s what. Over a “disagreement” apparently. Tenpenny, at this point, hadn’t done anything to me. He was a daft old man with a nice suit.

    So, I did the only thing any self-righteous Wasteland defender/avenger would do, and killed Roy. And lost karma. So I opted to reload, figuring that I’d just ditch the place and leave them to their maniac leader. I returned some time later, and there were only ghouls left. The ghouls had murdered each and every one of the humans. There were no real reasons mentioned. The affable old human hero? Gone without a trace. Why bother killing him? He likes ghouls! He’s famous, and it’s well known he used to travel with one! Aside from 2 or 3 people, everyone in the tower was happy to have the ghouls!

    Eh.

    The vampires were just annoying. But I’m not about to rant about them too.

    Edit : GAH. You guys are quick. And less verbose, apparently.

  5. Hotsauce says:

    Grammar nazi, checking in:
    prejudiced lunatic
    eke out a miserable existence

  6. JTA says:

    Mostly I really liked the game (although I’m coming from a position of having somehow missed Fallout 1 & 2, so I’m not well-placed to make comparisons).

    [SPOILER ALERT, although pretty much the same as above, by this point.]

    This was the one quest that I really hated. Roy was a louse of a character, but I chatted with a couple of the other ghouls he was hanging out with, and they did actually seem fairly nice people, so I thought I’d make use of all the persuasion points I’d been loading up on.

    I got everyone into the tower just fine, and got a decent XP payoff, and a fairly spiffy mask that made me look like one of the evil ferral ghouls so I could just wander past them (and stab ’em in the back on the way by – they’re slow to work out that the only ferral with massive armour & a shiny assault rifle doesn’t fit in, apparently).

    Off I went, nice and happily, and I found Herbert ‘Daring’ Dashwood’s old ghoul manservant’s body. Dashwood was a really nice old guy who’d retired to Tenpenny Tower, and I’d had a chat with him & he was the one character I felt genuinely fond of, having heard how cool he was on the radio, so I went back to Tenpenny to tell him.

    … All ghouls. Every person I’d spoken to before was dead, and I felt really cheated; there was no warning that was going to happen, the game just did a number on me behind me back.

    In the end I hunted down every ghoul in the tower and battered them to death with a plank of wood, which absolutely wrecked my karma (why?! I was killing murders, dammnit!), but it made me feel a little better…

    I don’t know if they were trying to be really clever and say “actually, everyone is kinda horrible,” but if they were then they really missed; it felt way too unfair to be cleverly philosophical, and I think that’s because there wasn’t any warning.

    I’m rambling, but that’s because I’m actually still really unhappy about the way the sods treated my character. Shutting up now.

  7. Viktor says:

    i object to your implication that there was anything wrong with the Oblivion quests. Yes, 95% of them were bunk. The other 5% were the Dark Brotherhood. They, as I’m sure you remember, were epic. [/rant]

  8. JohnW says:

    Get out of town, you richers!

  9. Jimborb says:

    And i took the horrifically violent route of placing a grenade in the pocket of Roy Phillips, Detonating the nuke in megaton, then killing every resident of tenpenny tower.

    At least i’ve got my robotic butler to keep me company and give me haircuts.

  10. Dys says:

    I never went back to Tenpenny after letting the ghouls in, that’s really messed up.

    The first time, however, before I even knew the option to help them get accepted into the tower existed, I went up to the penthouse, shot the old bastard in the head and threw him off the balcony.

    Why? He was sending Talons after me, I had proof, I foolishly thought offing him would prevent me being ambushed every damn time I left a subway in the DC ruins. Sadly it doesn’t seem to work that way.

    In my view, Tenpenny needed to die however you look at it. But a quest in which your only options are to kill a bunch of not evil people, or kill another bunch of not evil people… what?

  11. Isn says:

    Some (many) of your criticisms I would agree with, but occasionally I just don’t get what your difficulty is.

    So, some of the quests don’t have an obvious “right” or “wrong” choice – so what? The vampire quest is an obvious example. By *their* lights *they* are the ones who need to be “understood”. I don’t have problem with this at all. It’s a different world out there – kill or be killed seems to be the rule. In their case it’s kill or die of starvation. Not much of a choice – assuming they haven’t thought of the solution that makes everybody happy (which is one of the possible quest resolutions). It’s a reasonably well-done quest IMO – there are several outcomes, with no obvious right/wrong choices. Good. As it should be.

    Regarding the Tenpenny Towers situation – I must say I’ve played through twice now, and never really picked up the whole “rich people are gits” thing. The residents are described as “stuck-up” quite a lot, which is (mostly) fair. When I got in there I found myself projecting a little – becoming quite irritated by their “airs and graces”. I thought: what small-minded idiots they are, imagining that fine clothes and “keeping the right company” actually mean something when all around them the world is a feral wasteland – a situation that would be obvious to them if only they took a moment away from the contemplation of their own navels.

    Of course not a few of them want Roy dead. Note that the reason they give is not that he is a murderous cove, but that he is a ghoul, and ALL ghouls are evil, ugly, and generally not very nice neighbours. Sounds a lot like bigotry to me. Roy too is bigoted – just like the residents he doesn’t want a peaceful solution either. He thinks that the residents are all the same (which isn’t true).

    So I went for the “lets get them all moved in together”. I reckoned it was the perfect solution, after all they *deserve* each other. Another good quest I thought. Several possible outcomes and no obvious “right” or “wrong” paths. As it should be. Again.

    One last thing regarding the economy. It’s broken in many ways of course – why do food stalls trade in armour? What use is “Pre-war money” to anyone? It’s waaaay too easy to get rich by petty larceny, and waaaay too easy to nullify the bad karma that causes. High-value weapon drops are too frequent, especially mines & missiles.

    But … doesn’t this apply to everyone else as well? You ask how the residents got rich? Presumably the same way I did – by scavenging, trading, and thieving. Maybe even money-lending – just the sort of thing I’d expect the average Tenpenny resident to be engaged in – it doesn’t get their precious clothes dirty.

    • WJS says:

      The “difficulty” isn’t that there are several outcomes, neither right or wrong, but that the game does label one as “right” and one as “wrong” – and they have them the wrong way around!

  12. R.Colin says:

    A couple of points (and SPOILERS!)

    Apparently the entire food economy of the Capital Wasteland is built on the hydroponics in Rivet City (the only place in the game I’ve seen which actually does anything akin to farming). Either that or it’s all (mole) rats and (rad) roaches…

    From the wiki it’s apparent that this is another Kobayashi Maru – the ostensibly GOOD karma solution results in all the humans dying (as noted by other commenters). In subsequent playthroughs I just murdered the ghouls in creative ways knowing in my heart I did the right thing – Three Dog and karma notwithstanding. Or I simply avoided doing the quest at all, since not getting involved means everyone lives. Sometimes the winning move is not to play.

  13. mc says:

    Unfortunately it appears it’s increasingly popular to have justice be more about populist catchphrases than, you know…justice.

    Oh well.

    /me throws the free-market capitalism gangsign at Shamus.

  14. Deoxy says:

    So, some of the quests don't have an obvious “right” or “wrong” choice – so what?

    That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but that’s not the situation. With a “karma” system, you can tell right away if something is “right”, “wrong”, or neutral, according to the game. That’s what he is complaining about (and he’s right).

    Edit: response to mc: for some reason, the recent Presidential election comes to mind. Not going any farther than that (at least, not here).

  15. Shamus says:

    I think Deoxy and others have nailed it: The original Fallouts had moral ambiguity, but the Karma system wasn’t hanging over your head, passing judgment on every action. And they didn’t have a guy on the radio doing the same.

    And even here, it would be fine for there to be moral ambiguity (that would be super, actually) if the Karma arrow didn’t presume to know the “true” answer. (Thus removing the ambiguity.)

    I wouldn’t have taken offense with this if they just left the karma system out of this mission, and if 3 Dog kept his yap shut about it.

  16. Isn says:

    Mmm, fair point. Better to have these things more opaque. Better for immersion, better to avoid hand-holding, better all round.

    Mind you I quite like the “trial by DJ”. It’s not like we have to agree with him – rather like in the real world :).

  17. clouviere says:

    Not that this in any way makes up for a less than stellar portrayal of an economy, and if they take this MMO like they are planning they are going to need to have a real one, but there are some examples of economy in the game.

    The prime example that comes to mind is the Murluk farm in DC. A closed environment, raising, killing and processing into cakes. Sales, envy, enemies, farmed fresh murluk’s gone bad. On the service, yes, it was a tad shallow, should have had a little more depth (like the ice gangs and the clear nuka-cola). But you have to admit it had some potential and it shoes that someone was trying to eke (yeah, my grammar sucks too…)a living doing something constructive.

    To the point of the post, yes, this quest sucked. But mostly because it just didn’t sit well. It was just off. Shamus did a good job discussing the various reasons, but I can’t even say for sure that any one thing was to blame, it was just off.

    I wanted to kill Roy outside the gates. I wanted to kill everyone in side for the way they talked to me. And, well, second go around I did. First time I killed Roy in his bed. And sadly I lost Karma. But I guess I deserved it at the time cause I didn’t let him even tell me is plan, so in my mind he was just a ghoul in a metro service tunnel room and I was being asked to kill him so I could “prove” what a stand up guy I was. And I did.

    The second time, knowing the full situation, I led Roy and his merry bandits in, then after they had done their killing, I started doing mine. Now Tenpenny Tower is vacant, just like every well else I have been…a wasteland inside to match the outside.

    I would have loved Shamus’ option of talking Roy down or even leading him into DC so he could hook up with others like him…pissed off soon to be feral ghouls. That would have been a happy ending.

    cl

  18. Kovbasa says:

    The thing that bothered me most about the quest was not the unanswered questions about the economy (I didn’t think too hard about that part, I just rolled with it). It wasn’t the hypocrisy (for lack of a better term) of the ghouls wanting to be treated like people despite acting like psychopaths. It wasn’t the Karma hit for killing the ghouls. It wasn’t even the lack of a “good” resolution to the quest. the lack of any real resolution at all that bothered me.

    (Spoilers ahoy!)

    So my first run through I decided to try to make peace. I figured, (some of) the humans a bigoted, but they don’t deserve to die (except Tenpenny). The ghouls have had a hard “life” and are pissed off, but maybe if everybody calms down we’ll have a a mutually beneficial arrangement. Great. I convince everybody to let the ghouls stay (except for one girl who leaves), and ride off into the sunset, my work done.

    I come back later and the ghouls have slaughtered everybody. Disappointing, but I can live with it. What I can’t live with is the lack of any sort of resolution. You talk to Roy and the conversation (or lack thereof) consists of “Yup. I killed all the humans. Didn’t like them. Catch ya later”. There’s no real way to show your righteous indignation without opening fire on the non-hostile (to you) ghouls. It left me feeling very unresolved about the whole situation.

    Now I just go in and kill the ghouls straightaway.

  19. Avilan the Grey says:

    I am just about to do this quest for the first time, and I was planning to just kill the Ghouls (but now I want that mask, dammit!).

    However I heard somewhere that if you feel suspicious enough about Roy, the Good quest can have a Good ending: Negotiate them inside, then kill Roy (apparently you will have an opportunity to kill him alone (so I have heard). That way everyone but Roy lives.

    About Ghouls: They are not fully human anymore, the radiation has also given them a very long life (one looking like her early 60ies was at least 205 years old). They are also sterile, like the Super Mutants (Super Mutants never attacks Ghouls or the other way around btw). Judging from the Glowing Ones, too high radiation might cause Ghouls to go feral, slowly, despite them healing from radiation.

    About the “Vampires”: The good ending is a contract, not a hostage situation. The town pays the vampires, but they use their superior skill and weapons to defend the town. I find that a good-enough ending.
    (Another question is: What are they really? All of them apparently are having problems controlling their bloodlust, they sound almost like part-time feral Ghouls. Listen to what the kid describes after you bring him back to Arefu…

    Oh and about Tenpenny. Remember that he is the one that paid Burke to nuke Megaton. Gonna shoot him too, at some point…

  20. Strangeite says:

    While I have never played Fallout 3, I have spent 31 years of my life with the name Roy. Years of being called Ray, or altneratively Roy the Boy Toy, probably caused his psyche to collapse resulting in the Fascist-leaning Socialist Psychopathic Ghoul you find in the game.

  21. I hated this quest so much that I refused to get involved in it, which was the only sensible option I could think of.

    It’s one of the things that made me say that the game makes you feel like you’re either the only adult at a kid’s party or the only person who, somehow, hasn’t seen the joke.

  22. Kilmor says:

    @Avilan the Gey

    IIRC the wiki on this quest says that Tenpenny gets killed the second the quest is complete. IE, you deliver the good news to roy and magic happens and even if you kill roy right afterwards, he still somehow managed to kill ppl?

  23. Avilan the Grey says:

    #21 Kilmor:
    Well… Tenpenny needs to die anyway, so… :P

  24. Tycho says:

    Yeah It would seem Roy is pissed about Mr Tenpenny being a bigot and so he has a stubborn stance to get in there… I’m not sure it’s all that implausible as you say.

    Now if you were to rant about how bad dialog is… about how little one cares about anybody. Even your companions! They are 2 dimensional a-holes. Where’s their character development? Where’s their interesting backstory? Same goes for Amata, while she does get some backstory and development it all amounts to nothing in the end… and so on and so on… Oh oh and your goddam father not only is he voiced in a monotonous and heartfelt-lacking way, again there’s no bonding between the two of you. There’s no joyous reunion when you finally meet him it all “Oh hey… erm well I’m leaving for Rivet city see ya around” and, again, in a monotonous voice… Supermutants were downgraded to orcish brutes… raiders to reavers from ‘Firefly’… the main story was a mash-up of FO1 and FO2’s only it didn’t make sense and was short… Enclave didn’t make sense as well… well you get the idea And I didn’t mention anything about gameplay mechanics…

  25. Avilan the Grey says:

    #23 Tycho
    I have yet to find anything wrong with gameplay mechanics.
    Nor the enclave.

    As for the super mutants: They are not the same!!! It’s like comparing Abomination and Hulk and complain that they are not both exactly like Hulk. Similar mechanism, different subjects and test program.

  26. Terrible says:

    My city has graffiti that reads “Kill all Racists”

    I don’t know if it’s supposed to be ironic or not.

  27. Matt K says:

    This is the problems I’ve found in both Fallout 3 and Oblivion. The developers provide an issue where lets say there are 4 obvious solutions to the player but they tend to only provide 3 of them as in game solutions and the fourth is completely forgotten. This is one of the reasons I quit Oblivion so quickly. I got sick of going “but wait why couldn’t I just do X (which seems obvious enough)”.

  28. qrter says:

    I opted for the ghouls too and let them into Ten-Penny Tower (to coexist peacefully).

    I also went away and came back later to find the ghouls had killed everyone. And I loved it. The game made me feel something, basically. I did feel cheated and angry, but not by/at the game, by/at Roy and his ghouls. I don’t think the moral of this mission is any more ‘philosophical’ than ‘the downtrodden minority can consist of bad people too’.

    I don’t feel the game should’ve given me warning at all – I tried to make the best choice I could, but the odds were against me. In a world like Fallout 3‘s, that’s the best you can hope for, really.

    I was happy to take a karma hit for blowing Roys head off, in fact, there are soooo many places you can get a good karma hit, I stopped caring about karma long before I arrived at this mission.

  29. MechaCrash says:

    You can bring up that Ray’s subway tunnels are already a very secure location and not a bad place. His response is to the tune of “oh, I get it, so living in a hole is good enough, you bigot?” (He calls you a bigot constantly.) He probably saw himself in sort of a civil rights crusader way, in that he was not being given the same rights and treatment as everyone else, so it was time to stop asking and start demanding. Unfortunately, due to the whole “murderous asshole” thing (if he was already that way or constantly being crapped on turned him that way is something that never comes up), he misses the entire point of it and screws it all up too.

    I don’t think he’d take a suggestion of moving to Underworld very well, either, because he would immediately take it as being told “you’re a freak, you should live with the other freaks where we normal people don’t have to see your freakishness.” Then he’d call you a bigot again.

    As for the feralness, I don’t think ghouls can turn feral. I think that, when someone turns into a ghoul, either their mind and sanity remain intact and they’re a regular talking ghoul, or they go nuts during the change and are feral.

  30. Claire says:

    Terrible,

    Racist isn’t a race, so it’s not really ironic… I mean, if the the absence of racism were pacifism, I could see what you were getting at… but, it’s not.

  31. Binks says:

    NOTE: I haven’t actually played any of the Fallout games, never got around to it. Still would like to offer my opinion, however. For that reason any spoilers are from other posts

    “but that he is a ghoul, and ALL ghouls are evil, ugly, and generally not very nice neighbours.” – JTA

    From what I’ve heard this is pretty much true. Doesn’t the ghoul start killing people if you let him in? Then wouldn’t that be the definition of a ‘not very nice neighbor’? I mean, would you invite someone who’s very likely to murder you into your town? Would you be okay with it because they’re ‘different’? Bigotry only applies when the person is not a monster who will kill you and your townmates given the choice. That’s the number 1 problem with moral stories in video games, 9 times out of 10 the person we’re supposed to feel sorry for because of the racism against them belongs to a race known for murdering people whenever they’re given the chance…not exactly a fair or good comparison to real life racism.

    I mean, can you really fault the residents of that town for not wanting to let in a ghoul who apparently murders them all given the chance (from what I’ve read)? I sure can’t, no matter how annoyingly stuck up they may be about it.

  32. Isn says:

    No – can’t fault them for not letting ROY in. But can fault them for not letting ANY ghouls in.

    See, it’s the generalisation that makes it bigoted.

  33. Claire says:

    “we're supposed to feel sorry for because of the racism against them belongs to a race known for murdering people whenever they're given the chance…not exactly a fair or good comparison to real life racism.”

    Well, in fairness, this is exactly the model real-life racism follows… it’s just that (in most cases), this is a ridiculously false belief. In fantasy worlds, though, we love our stark morality, so all orcs/ghouls/kobolds/whatever are evil is just acceptable. When we see Drizzt emerge from the Underdark to engage in general do-gooding, does it challenge our assumptions about the Drow? No. “He’s one of the good ones.” The category as a monolithic evil persists… This is due in part to narration bias.

    The problem with Fallout 3’s treatment of ghouls isn’t that they’re selling an implausible model of racism… it’s that they’ve attached moral good to the oppressed class and not the privileged class. Even the narrator tries to sell you on it. The only reason we don’t buy it is because our in-group selection mechanisms trigger for the robots living in the uncanny valley of Megaton, not for the melty-faced monsters in the sewers.

  34. LintMan says:

    First a bit about ghouls: I think they’re more than just people with a bad skin condition. I’m pretty sure they don’t die of old age anymore. The woman in Underworld remembers the bombs dropping during the war, 200 years earlier. And I don’t think they just randomly turn feral – I thought it was that when people become ghouls, some immediately become feral ones and others dont. I don’t think there’s much danger of a regular ghoul “snapping” and going all feral out of nowhere, and I don’t think the normal ones are radioactive. Also, the feral ghouls don’t attack regular ghouls, but regular ghouls don’t have any control over the feral ones.

    Interestingly, I found a way to beat this kobayashi maru and end up with (almost) everyone alive and happy in the tower:

    – I accepted the quest to kill Tenpenny from the ghoul in Underworld – “Gotta shoot ’em in the head” quest.
    – Talked to Tenpenny (left him alive), talked to Roy, and then convinced the residents to allow the ghouls (or convinced them to leave). I even talked to the ones Tenpenny didn’t list (like the doctor) and got them to be OK with it.
    – Once everyone was on board with it, went back to Tenpenny and got the OK. Went downstairs and talked to the Security guy and told him the ghouls were allowed in (I don’t think I had to kill him).
    – Then I immediately went back upstairs and offed Tenpenny.
    – Then off to Roy Phillips telling him they can move in.

    I returned to the tower a number of times afterwards, through the completion of the game, and the residents (both humans and ghouls) continued to live happily together. So the only person who dies is Tenpenny, who I was going to kill anyway.

    The quest is definitely odd, karma-wise, but I think Shamus’ take on Roy Phillips is a bit incorrect, which is partly why things seem so “off”: Shamus is assuming that Roy can’t pay and that there is no rooms available for the ghouls on the evidence that looting Roy bear little money, and the player can’t buy a room. But lots of the “rich” people carry little money, and the Tenpenny tower people never say there is no room, only they don’t want any “zombies”. Once you get Tenpenny’s OK, the ghouls move in and there’s no concerns about their ability to pay. The player not being able to buy one is probably because it’s reserved as a perk for the evil megaton bomb quest.

    So here’s my take on Roy:
    – He’s got the money, and he’s tried repeatedly to get in but has repeatedly been told “no zombies”.
    – Roy’s a thug and now he’s pissed. He starts making threats and the security guy starts looking for someone to kill all the neighboring ghouls.
    – That’s where you come in. You can kill one side or the other (I wonder if 3Dog denounces the act if you help the ghouls kill everyone in the Tower?), or try to do the good thing and ovecome the prejudice and unite both sides. Sorry, telling Roy he’s not allowed in because he’s a thug, not because he’s a ghoul, isn’t an option, but they can’t cover every possibility.
    – The twist, of course, is that in the “good” solution, usually all the humans end up dead (and the ghouls too after the player gets revenge and kills them). The moral? Maybe that sometimes it’s best to just mind your own business? Or that not every problem has a happy solution?

    Anyway, I think the quest could have been written/designed more clearly, and the karma is screwy, but overall, it’s not that bad and has some interesting points.

  35. Dave says:

    “Some ghouls are feral, and attack non-ghouls on sight. The problem is that the game never explains what makes normal, human ghouls into feral ghouls.”

    Yes it does. Non ferals have less radiation, but may degrade into feral ghouls over time as the radiation kills more brain cells. You see this process in the Dunwitch (sp?) building as the man on the hollow disks slowly turns into a ghoul then a feral ghoul (I assume Moira was not in megaton when it was nuked).

    “What makes the people of Tennpenny Towers “rich”?”

    They have a lot of caps. One of the residents, for example, is a folk hero who’s life was turned into a radio show. I’m sure he accumulated lots of caps during his adventures. Others are merchants who may have accumulated a lot of wealth before setting up shop in Tenpenny.

    “Note that nobody else in the game can buy a place in Tenpenny, either. And if you kill Roy he doesn't have any vast riches. So he's really mad that they won't sell him an apartment which isn't for sale and which he doesn't know about for money he doesn't have.”

    Maybe no one else has enough caps. I haven’t run into many people who do and they wouldn’t want to live there (e.g. Eulogy Jones). Maybe Roy doesn’t carry all his money in his pockets (the real problem is you being able to do so).

    “Nicer clothes are plentiful and cheap – way cheaper than the guns everyone is toting around – so it's not clear why they don't forgo a single night of booze and use the money to replace their rags with some decent clothing.”

    Valid point, but nitpicky.

    “The problem here is that the most sensible courses of action simply aren't available.”

    Only if you are roleplaying a good character. What’s wrong with a quest that primarily focuses on evil characters when so many others require you to do good deeds.

    “Once again the right/wrong karma arrow points sideways, and it's wrong to kill them, but right to convince a nearby village to supply them with blood in exchange for being left alone. I guess it's okay to hold a village hostage and enslave them if you're very polite and claim to be misunderstood.”

    Wow, a quest with no right or wrong answer. Just a practical one. Shame on the developers for trying to add some nuance.

  36. Nick C says:

    My biggest beef is with Tenpenny himself. If the bombs had fallen just 50 years ago, and he was just trying irrationally to hold onto his old lifestyle, that would make sense as far as the character is concerned. But he is likely to be about 70 or 80 years old, in a world where the bombs dropped 200 years ago. WHY is he living like a pompous ass with a british accent, when he was born roughly 120-130 years after the bombs fell? Was he raised that way by other pompous asses? What is he “rich” from? Is he from England? How did he get over to the states then…and why? All that bothers me.

  37. MintSkittle says:

    Yeah, I never did this quest, cause when I wandered over to Tenpenny Tower and saw Roy arguing with the gate guard, I just HAD to slip him a grenade like in the video demo:

    http://www.gametrailers.com/player/39291.html

    So I couldn’t do the “right” thing and help the ghouls, and I didn’t want to kill them, so I just left the rest alone.

    One thing that bothers me about the vampire quest is how can four people provide enough blood for twice their number?

  38. Nick C says:

    To MintSkittle:

    In the Arefu quest, i believe they are bargaining for blood packs, not to actually drink the blood of the residents…that would make no sense. I’m guessing it’s the job of one or two residents to “find” blood packs for the ‘vampires” who in turn protect Arefu.

  39. Shamus says:

    Dave: It’s not nuanced at all. The game hits you over the head with the “right” answer, which is “kill the rich snobs and let the thug have the place.” It’s the only ending which doesn’t give you a karma hit.

    Like I said above, this quest wouldn’t be so abominable if the Karma system didn’t penalize you for trying to PRESERVE life.

    Also: When I asked “what makes the people of Tenpenny “rich”, yes, of course they supposedly have more caps.

    But, there needs to be a reason. Setting up shops where they sell stuff to each other (they don’t let in many outsiders) makes no sense. Moreover, what good is having lots of caps? What would they buy? Nobody produces anything.

  40. Tycho says:

    Also, if Capital Wasteland BOS kills all ghouls (refer to Underworld ghouls)… and CW BOS is, like, the new knights errant of the wasteland making it right for everyone, I would suppose you killin’ sum’ ghouls (like Roy an’ his little gang) shouldn’t have to affect your karma…

  41. qrter says:

    The karma system is screwy and seems out of place in a game that should be all about ambiguity and the ‘folly of man’, if you will.

  42. Dave says:

    Shamus: My nuanced comment was regarding blood ties. You need to find a practical solution for both groups not a heroicly good one.

    My comment on Tenpenny was that this was a quest for mostly evil or neutral characters as so many others are for good characters. I agree the karma hit is messed up though.

  43. Nick C says:

    For the sake of suspension of disbelief, I just think of the Karma system as reference to how the gameworld’s inhabitants look at you, not the Buddhist concept of Karma: global right or wrong.

    If I kill a whole bunch of ghouls, regardless of the reason, it make sense that the gameworld’s inhabitants would see me as a bad person, because they weren’t there to see what really went down.

    On the other hand…if they weren’t there to see what went down, how the hell does 3-dog know about it?

  44. Shamus says:

    Dave: And the Karma hit is pretty much what I find so objectionable. I agree with you that there should be a good supply of interesting quests for evil characters. (I know FO1 had plenty clearly evil quests.) I haven’t tried the evil path yet in FO3. (Aside from nuking Megaton to see the fireworks.)

  45. Sigma says:

    1st: I think Ghouls become Feral if the radiation affects their brains.
    2nd: I know a women (Grandma Sparkles) who’s sons go hunting Mirelurks.
    3rd: Roy does actually murder all the non-ghouls after 2 weeks if you let him in.

  46. Dave says:

    **Spoilers Below**

    Let me also say that while I am defending this quest (I liked the fact that there is no right answer and that sometimes things go bad no matter what you do) and liked the game very much in general, I did have several problems with the game. The game is very good, but it could have been incredible, but it isn’t.

    1.The main quest is horribly boring once you reach rivet city (the beginning up until then was very good). And the ending…ugg…don’t even get me started (you don’t even participate in the final battle). You should analyze this quest step by step.

    2.The writing in general is just lazy. Nuking Megaton is such a huge consequence that you should need to do a huge quest (getting the detonator parts perhaps) instead of just taking some mentats to raise your skill and presto you can arm the bomb and blow up Megaton. Same for disarming the bomb.

    3. Good and evil karma have no consequences at all except which companions you can get and a scolding from your dad.

    4. Speech should open up more options not make you skip lots of fun parts of the game. Also, dialog options based on stats have no consequence.

    5. There are way too many large areas with no quests attached to them and are just dengeon crawls (e.g. For Bannister, Durnwich Building, LOB enterprises, etc..).

    6. There is no reason to make choice between stats and skills because they are all easy to raise with books, perks, bobbleheads (shouldn’t bobbleheads be explained as some kind of cybernetic implant or something).

    7. Some perks are powerful and some add flavor, but half are just a waste. No negative consequences for any of them either.

    8. Walking into the Superduper Mart at lvl 3 with a 10mm pistol was scary and thrilling. One shotting every enemy with my plasma rifle/Lincoln Repeater at lvl 12 not so much

    I really liked the game as a wasteland survival/exploring game with some RPG elements. If they had taken the time to polish the RPG elements it would have been a great game–maybe even one of the best games I have ever played.

  47. MintSkittle says:

    @ Nick C

    Yes, the deal is for bloodpacks, but where do they come from? If they want to provide a constant supply for their new bloodthirsty friends, they’ll need to make their own, since none of them are wandering the wastes searching for medkits which may or may not have a bloodpack.

  48. LintMan says:

    Shamus wrote: “Dave: It's not nuanced at all. The game hits you over the head with the “right” answer, which is “kill the rich snobs and let the thug have the place.” It's the only ending which doesn't give you a karma hit.”

    This is not true: from what I’ve heard, you get a massive karma hit if you open the door and let the ghouls in to kill everyone and take over. The game certainly doesn’t treat that as the “right answer”.

    Or are you talking about the solution of getting Tenpenny to agree to let them in? That solution doesn’t require killing anyone, so I really wouldn’t call that “kill the rich snobs and let the thug have the place”. Now, the *end result* is that the rich snobs usually get killed, but you don’t know that’s what’s going to happen. It’s a good intention leading to a bad result (and karma is all about intentions).

    And if you predicted the bad result, well, sometimes, the only winning move is not to play, Dr. Falken. Killing ALL the ghouls in the train station certainly isn’t a superior moral solution to *not* helping either side kill the other. You acted as a paid killer to wipe them out and then 3Dog called you out for it. You may have had other motivations, but those are the basic facts the game is reacting to.

  49. Hal says:

    Here’s the question to me: What are the technological limitations to adding complexity to quests like this?

    I know CRPGs don’t have room for infinite creativity, so at some point the developers have to define the number of solutions to a puzzle. Here you’ve listed three: Kill Roy, let Roy in, convince others to let Roy in. At what point does it tax the game to have more solutions than that? And what number of solutions to these situations would be the right number?

  50. mos says:

    They explain feral ghouls as ghouls who couldn’t take the change in their appearance, and snapped. Since they live a really long time, they end up going really batshit insane.

    It was either on the radio or through a dialog that I learned that. I’m pretty sure it was Three Dog.

  51. Shamus says:

    Hal: No real technological barriers, it just takes time. Of course, as the number of decisions increases, and the number of points at which decisions can be made increases, it becomes much, much more complex. Pretty soon the challenge becomes not scripting the scenario, by testing all the possible permutations and making sure they all make sense and work as expected.

    Here is a quest in Oblivion that offers a huge number of choices. (I don’t even list them all, some are pointed out in the comments.)

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=507

    It can get out of control quickly, and you can find broken quests all over.

  52. illiterate says:

    Shamus(or others),

    If you were presenting this scenario to players in a pen and paper rpg, would you have wanted to tweak the setup? Leave out economy. Assume the tenpenny bastards have robots that make stuff for them, they sell finished goods to distributors in other cities, and buy raw materials.. they do it via intermediaries to keep their hands clean. Or some other working situation.

    If you were presented with this scenario by your GM, how would you have approached it. Assume the freedom provided by live RPG rather than scripted computer responses.

    [edit] i suppose Shamus already answered part 2[/edit]

  53. Shamus says:

    illiterate: I would have tried to talk him down, first by explaining how well-off he is, then by telling him about ghoul city, then suggesting that he find elsewhere to live.

    If he was set on moving in and was determined to kill in order to do so, I would have tried to get him to state it plainly.

    So, you’re saying you have no choice but to go in there and wipe those people out?

    If he said yes, then it would be time to fight.

    (Or time to slink off and look for a chance to get the drop on him. I’m not LAWFUL good by nature. :)

  54. Joe says:

    @minkskittle
    With as many as I bring them, they all come from me, apparantly. Also, they probably reuse the bags for the blood packs and refill them from the residents of Arefu.

    @Dave
    #8 I completely agree. In the beginning of the game I was always running low on ammo, armor, food, water. It seemed like the game was really post apocalyptic. As soon as I got to level 10, suddenly I was the richest man in the world and nothing was a challenge. Supermutants stopped being scary, and their behemoths were just an excuse to use the missile launcher.

    @Shamus
    Comparatively, this is actually one of the stronger quests to do in FO3. When I finally got around to it, I discovered that I couldn’t complete the “good” ending. I’d stolen some woman’s cash from her safe and she left the tower! (Though her body did show up later after the ghouls had murdered everyone.) So I let the ghouls in, they killed everyone, I killed them, got my gamer score points and reloaded the game. And I never looked back. It was fun, and to me has the same feel that blowing up Megaton had. I wasn’t sure if I was doing right or wrong. When I first got to Megaton, everyone treated me like dirt. I *wanted* to send them to kingdom come. But then Burke was a jerk to me and I ratted him out. He murdered the sheriff, I murdered Burke. Just because you take Karma hits or get Karma bonuses shouldn’t invalidate the value of the quests (even as shakily written as they are in FO3). Moral ambiguity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Morals are morals. Right and wrong are always right and wrong even when there is no clear right choice. I liked the quest, even though the reasons I like it are probably not intended or designed.

  55. Nalano says:

    More than the misplaced moralism in a survivalist game or the fact the “bad” people by far outnumber the “good” people is the fact that all the “good” characters act, if not borderline psychotic, then Lawful Stupid. You know, the kind of people who would not last a month out in the wastes, let alone two centuries.

    Spoiler alert.

    Your dad? Runs crosscountry in a jumpsuit with a revolver. Can’t fight mutants (He tells you so.) Walks with unarmed scientists in labcoats to a place infested with mutants and waits for you to clear them out. Doesn’t hire guards. Doesn’t even consider the fact that he’s walking through a freakin’ warzone.

    The Brotherhood of Steel? Wastes all their resources and personnel defending the minority of the population from the majority, such that they can’t even maintain communication with their patrols or, for that matter, send out patrols. They fall behind the arms race, despite their primary goal of acquiring technology, and end up being particularly ineffective at everything until the penultimate Deus Ex Machina… literally.

    Arefu’s means for sustenance and economy ceased to exist after all their cattle were killed. Bigtown has no reason to exist, as all they do is farm dust and complain. Girdershade? Raider food. Temple of the Union is supported by exactly one brahmin, just like Megaton is supported by exactly one brahmin. I can’t remember if the Republic of Dave even has the brahmin. I think Underworld’s denizens diets consist solely of Jet and vodka. Rivet City’s hydroponics have made exactly three carrots and two potatoes – their canteen still sells scrounged roadkill.

    Every good settlement has at most two people on guard out front. Raiders, by comparison, don’t need hideouts: They can take out everybody else by simple knock-on-the-door brute force.

    I could go on.

  56. MintSkittle says:

    Now @ Joe

    Yes, again, you can also sell them bloodpacks from your own stash, but supposing you never do (get the perk to drink the packs for +20 hp), and that they refill used bags, there are still only four people to give blood for twice their number of drinkers. They would be bled dry in very short order.

  57. Dave says:

    Nalano: I agree that world inconsistency breaks immersion in the world, but I can almost excuse it (other than the wimpy BOS) because I can try to “suspend my disbelief”. Just as I do in many movies I love (e.g. Dark Knight). What I can’t excuse are things that flatly make the game less fun as I described in my previous post.

  58. Nalano says:

    @Dave:

    I don’t watch most blockbuster movies (with the possible exception of Dark Knight) because the fridge logic absolutely kills me. (e.g. Wanted. Did anybody watch that for anything other than the naked backside of Angelina Jolie?)

    But you know why I suspended my disbelief and honestly enjoyed the Dark Knight? Because the Joker was a compelling character. Things like that make up for a lot. Sadly, I fail to see any such here. No, not even affably stupid Moira.

    @MintSkittle:

    And they can’t buy bloodpacks from scavengers because they have nothing to offer. Rancid brahmin meat might last a little while… if they knew how to store meat. They kinda just leave those brahmin as Yao Guai bait.

  59. Zaghadka says:

    I believe what you are complaining about here is “liberal bias” in the entertainment media. There is no helping that.

    Reminds me a lot of KotOR. I had real problems with getting darkside points for doing things that I felt were ethical and good in that game, too. It held morality to Kindergarten standards. And all characters were one dimensional, cardboard cut outs, not evolving people. I felt like I was playing in the ethical equivalent of the “Barney” show.

    You see, even well written games, which KotOR undoubtably was, have this kind of bias going on. You aren’t complaining about the writing, you’re complaining about the illogical, unreflective prejudices of the writers of Fallout 3.

    “Rich” people are evil simply because they are labeled “rich.” That should be enough. If it isn’t, then you have some understanding of the human condition and should stop playing games and do something useful! ;)

  60. Dave says:

    Nalano: For me the compelling character in FO3 was the wasteland itself. I had a great time surviving and exploring especially before I became the richest most powerful man in the world.

  61. MintSkittle says:

    @ Nalano

    I don’t think the dead brahmin have anything left to offer when you first get to Arefu. If you look at Vance’s compy, the brahmin were already slaughtered for sustenance, and they refuse to actually eat the meat. It’s part of their five laws.

  62. Nalano says:

    Zag, “liberal bias” is itself a misleading stereotype. It’s just as cloying to liberals this Paint-by-Numbers moralism as it is everybody else.

    Dave, a setting is a setting. It must then be populated. Mad Max is a work where the setting is stark and the characters bright and colorful. The characters here are sorely lacking. Where’s Tina Fey, damnit?

  63. Tim Skirvin says:

    You haven’t spotted the farms? I found several.

  64. Nalano says:

    Argh. I meant Tina Turner.

    I found no farms. I saw a couple small fenced brahmin pastures, but they tended to last an average of 12 seconds before being eaten by radscorpions.

  65. Martin says:

    This is kind of embarrassing to admit but when I discovered Moira sounded just like Sarah Palin, I changed my mind and accepted the quest to nuke Megatown.

  66. Shamus says:

    Martin: And the hilarious thing is that she’s the only one to survive. :)

  67. Josh says:

    Thank you, Shamus, for your excelent points. Now I can definitely get a feel of the bad writing in this game.

  68. Zwebbie says:

    Maybe I’ve just played Deus Ex and Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines too often, but I fail to see the point of morality quests in the first place if the designer determines what’s good or bad. Isn’t determining which is good or bad pretty much the point of such quests? It’s like a game of dropping in the forest where you have to find your way out, only you have a navigation system. As long as you know where you want to go in the end, you can’t go wrong… Except for quests like this one, which is just the navigation system lying to you. Either way, I prefer finding my own way out, thank you.

    That said, even if there were no stupid Karma system, I don’t quite agree with your suggestions for extra options. This is the Wasteland. I’d imagine being a knight in shining armour is a luxury that nobody – especially not a lone, young Vault Dweller – can afford, with the shortage of food, safety, water, ammo and what-not. Convincing Roy to go somewhere else and live happily ever after is the obvious good option. So you’d just look at what kind of character you’re playing and act on that… that’s hardly a difficult decision, is it? I say Fallout would be an ideal game to throw good/evil morality out the window. If it isn’t that easy in our world, so how could it possibly work in a post-apocalyptic one?

  69. Cuthalion says:

    If this were a fantasy game, I think the best way to handle morality, alignment, and different peoples’ perceptions of morality would be to show the player’s favor with various deities and/or factions rather than assigning universal good/evil points.

    This would serve the function of unlocking good/evil quests (“Banthulhu, God of Bludgeoning, likes you! Here’s a quest that involves being violent and mean!”) while avoiding situations like this, where the designers are so focused on one aspect of the decision (the racism) that they miss the rest of it that we notice and assign good/bad points incorrectly.

  70. acronix says:

    The problem with this quest is that there isn´t any GOOD choice, with the only “good” choice is being a moron and letting an inestable guy with mass murderer ideas get in the tower. There are clearly, as Shamus pointed out, a lot of outcomes the player should, at the very least, be able to try. If it was a “go and kill this guy because I pay you” then it would be OK if the good choice was not accepting the quest. But this is not, so there´s no excuse to not put any other good choices except for the Lawful-Stupid one.

    And if you say “It´s a great quest! It doesn´t have a right or wrong answer, unlike a lot of others!” let me tell you that it is so, not because it´s well written, but because the writers were lazy and wanted the player to see their prejudiced morals, and thus not letting him/her get a more “moral ending”.

    In fact, why the heck can´t you convince Roy to go to Underworld? Or to stay right there? Why not an option to “lie” to him and tell him that Tenpenny´s tower is crap? I wouldn´t be this mad at the quest if they had let the player AT LEAST try those possibilities.
    Also, I think killing Roy and his friends, altrough it is an evil act, I admit, it´s far a more reliable solution than letting an homicidal maniac in the tower, or than killing a whole tower full of people. Walking out and letting him alone and not complete the quest is a tricky option: even if Roy can´t get inside the tower, he may be able to ambush and murder those of the residents that dare to go out (I guess they don´t go out never, but who knows)or even kill the merchant caravans that supply it (if we consider that THAT is the way the tower sustains itself). So it is not good neither, it´s just a neutral option.

    ———————————–
    The cannibals quest is a quest made on the same piece of paper: to spit the player the morals of the developers (or the monkey writers, who knows?).
    Even if the cannibals are aparently “good” natured, not wanting to eat people, they still drink their blood, and they are still harassing people to get it. In fact, were the heck do they get the blood if not by killing people? Even their leader tells you that blood packs are scarce, so they surely are NOT getting it from them. Of course, the game NEVER implies that they kill people, because they want us to buy their “they are good!” statement.
    These “vampires” are just “cannibals” that went “good”, but they obviously still NEED to kill people, or enslave them (with the help of our Wasteland Saing Player Character). Instead of raiding a town, why don´t they go in search of raiders? Because it´s harder to kill a bunch of well armed raiders than harrasing a bunch of peasants. So…they are still good…right?

    Edit: another point, I always tought, by fallout 1 and 2 standards, that Karma was the way people saw you (if good-like or bad-like). It so, it would make sense that killing Tenpenny is a good thing (suppousing that we accept people hate rich people just for being rich), but then it doesn´t make sense that killing the cannibals gives you bad karma AND makes the TOWN OF AREFU go HOSTILE against you after that (let´s remember that THEY were the ones asking you to deal with them…). Karma in this game is not a “universal good system” not a “reputation” system. It´s messed up like sand castle after being kicked by a bully called Bethesda.

  71. Magnus says:

    If you completely remove the karma system, even within the restraints of the original quest, the outcomes are better. This would be because it would be the player rather than the game that determines whether you consider your actions good or evil. This would also require the removal of Three-Dog, which would be a good idea generally based on what I’ve read about him.

  72. =Dan says:

    I haven’t played through the Tenpenny Tower quest but I have to say two things:

    1) The writing is typical of the game (anyone gone through the Lovecraftian quest? It has no real conclusion).

    2) I thought Tenpenny Tower was Enclave controlled? Isn’t that where you watch the bomb explode?

  73. Ciennas says:

    I dunno. I’ve had this issue as well, and I first encountered it with fable, during the prologue.

    The set up was simple: Either stand still and watch these crates a farm hand was hired to look after for a minute, or smash em all up. this second option was presented by a little brat of a child, who had the nerve to call me a chicken for not joining in pointless vandalism. I figured a punch in the face might convince him to leave me alone, and rethink his life.

    And the game had the nerve to ping my karma meter for it, then lecture me with the local sheriff. yeesh.

    No. You know what brings real karma and character building? You don’t use a karma meter.

    In Morrowind, one of my god level characters discovered the tomb of a legendary hero. He had a nice axe, and soul gems that had discharged from eons of disuse. So I took the axe, and the soul gems as well.

    But then I felt guilty for it. I was raiding a tomb. of an actual hero. I ran back downstairs and gave it back, along with five grand in gold and replacing a few of the soul gems as well.

    That’s how you make a world with realism. You can have characters react to your presence, fine. But the meter should be invisible to the player, and not affect gameplay on a global scale.

    (If I am evil in one town, the entire world should not know of it, immediately upon performing an evil action. there should at least be a slight time delay, especially in medieval settings. Same with the good actions I perform, unless something happens like I was brought in with someone wel known in that town for one alignment or the other.)

    Haven’t played Fallout three though. Maybe the mod scene makes up for it Shamus. There’s probably a population rebalancer mod specifically designed for the vampire quest.

  74. MintSkittle says:

    Lovecraftian quest? Which one is that?

  75. JB says:

    Isn wrote:
    No – can't fault them for not letting ROY in. But can fault them for not letting ANY ghouls in.

    See, it's the generalisation that makes it bigoted.
    ————
    I don’t agree with you for two reasons:

    1. If 9 out of 10 ghouls are nice guys who will not kill you, you do not start letting them in. Not because of bigotry towards 9 out of 10, but because it’s risky to let anyone in. Soner or later you let the wrong ghoul in. What you call generalisations is simple risk calculation.

    2. I don’t agree that they are obliged to share their home with the less fortunate. Of course, when you are successful, it is a good thing to help the less fortunate. But there is a big difference from helping that to say that they should just share their home with anyone who might benefit from it.

    After all, not many people are letting random homeless people share their house in real life either.

  76. Zaghadka says:

    @62 Nalano

    Fine. If “liberal bias” is a stereotype, and therefore, I would presume, an unfair assessment, then let’s try something a little more accurate: “unwitting propaganda.”

    Most of the attitudes you’ll see regarding rich people being “penny pinchers,” the very stereotypes being espoused by the aptly named “Tenpenny Tower,” have their roots in Great Depression era media and entertainment. It’s as ingrained in our culture as Henry Potter in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” It’s simple propaganda.

    The rich people are corrupted meanies. They’re also control freak cripples running the world from a wheelchair, like the “Big Lebowski.” At least that movie made fun of it as a tired old trope. Just remember that its a common trope, and that means that it’s considerably more than just a “stereotype.”

    The folks who wrote Fallout 3 are just regurgitating a common (and unfortunate) stereotype that is silly to most serious writers. Even, as you note, liberal ones.

    I wish they’d spend more money on serious writers, and less on Liam Neeson. Writing talent is what is needed to address Shamus’ criticism of the game, and it can be gotten cheaply, if not easily.

  77. Dave says:

    So this is the answer for those who want to actually be good.

    “A strange [quest]. The only winning move is not to play.”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086567/quotes

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

  78. Martin says:

    @Shamus: Ahh. I haven’t actually got that far yet. I actually suck at this game, partly because the draw distance my card can handle is shorter than the range of pistols, so I spend a lot of time getting sniped by Raiders I can’t even see.

    New card for xmas.

  79. Namfoodle says:

    I think acronix has it right that the karma system in FO1 & FO2 was meant to be more of a reputation than a perfect moral compass. I think it worked alright in the first two games, but I still saw plenty of complaints from people about how the quests worked in those games.

    In particular, I saw a guy on a board who was incensed about how the Junktown quests in FO1 were set up. The short version is that town wants the crooks dead, but you can’t shoot first. You have to gather evidence without starting any fights so that the bad guys are forced to start the fight. If you do shoot first, the town’s guards will side with the crooks and start shooting at you. Some people just can’t wrap their heads around that one.

    It sounds like things drifted a bit in FO3. Clearly, the writers feel that being a rich biggot and “putting on airs” in a post-apocalyptic world is the biggest sin. And despite some of the residents of Tenpenny being cool, guilt be association taints them all and Roy is free to kill them if he feels like it.

    I like LintMan’s solution, but I’m not sure it was part of the design.

  80. Wade says:

    I’m glad someone brought up the ridiculousness of the Tenpenny quest.

    I went about it in a kind of backwards way. I got into the tower and Sandman’ed every human in the place. The guards and other residence were never the wiser. This was actually the part that bothered me the most. I guess the people never questioned why the clothing store was closed that day and the guards assumed all those bleeding corpses laying in bed were just asleep?

    Anyway, from there I went up to the top of the tower, blew off Tenpenny’s head and killed every guard on the way out. Mind, that it did this for fun, rather than for any greater moral gains.

    I figured I might as well cash in on the quest, since I killed everyone anyway, so I went and talked to Roy. He was still gung-ho on raiding Tenpenny tower. Despite that fact the place was a barren husk of a building. The game wouldn’t let me tell him that the place was already clean and ready to go. Hell, I could have opened the front door for him and waved him through.

    So I run off and do the little side job of opening the basement and all that mess, and they completely trash the tower. The lights are out, the statues are broken, and place is a mess. Their house in the sewers was nicer than what they turned this place into. Also, all the people I killed 10 minutes prior are now re-dead and scattered all over. I suppose that could be attributed to ghouls dragging corpses around, but still.

    My reward? A pat on the back and a “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” And a couple moral points, which are useless since I’m playing evil to start with.

    My real reward? Blowing away Roy and his little creep friends after shafting me for doing him that pretty big favour. The least he could have done was offer me a room in his precious tower.

    I guess it’s a no humans allowed tower.

    Cheers,
    Wade

  81. Veylon says:

    I think Ciennas has it right. What’s considered right or wrong or good or evil isn’t global, especially specific acts. If you shoot Tenpenny, sure, Roy and his goons might like you. Maybe some anti-rich people will shrug and say he had it coming. The populace of Megaton, if they knew of his plot, would certainly breathe a sigh of relief. But other people would say you’re a murderer and want nothing to do with you. Others, who live a long ways off, might just not care.

    Different groups and people want different things and should judge not only on some universal scale, but on their own beliefs and interests. An ambiguous game like Fallout should respect that.

  82. Derek K. says:

    “You're the wasteland's reaver.”

    Damn skippy, I am!

    I’ll definitely recommend most of you folks download the “no karma” mods out there. They turn off the visibility of the moral compass, and you’ll never know about it!

    There’s also a Tenpenny mod that just removes the Karma entirely (and reduces the Karma gain from giving people the free water you get).

  83. Martin says:

    eh. I don’t think I wanna play this game anymore. Frankly, I didn’t like it much but I kept trudging through, aimlessly and overly weak. I’d rather play the computer version of Car Wars called Autoduel on my Apple 2c than continue with this graphically great but junk game.

    In fact, I’m going to go try get Tie Fighter running on my Vista64 PC.

  84. Jim says:

    Ugh, I hate the Tennypenny Tower quest, every “solution” leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I actually ended up restoring to a (much) earlier save and just avoided even starting it.

    However I really liked Blood Ties. I didn’t buy the whole “we’re not cannibals” answer given by Vance, but admittedly I basically ignored it once they were open to the idea of using blood packs to feed.

    The solution of The Family protecting Arefu and in return getting blood donations from the town seemed reasonable and I happily accepted it as a “good” (in the honorable/karmic sense) solution.

    Conversely I didn’t care for Replicated Man. As I once again didn’t really care for any of the provided solutions. I did find one I could tolerate at least but I wasn’t happy about it.

  85. acronix says:

    @Veylon:
    Fallout 1 and 2 had “regional” karma, thus the reactions you mention of the people were more exact. If someone far, far away cared about something you did, it was only him who knew/cared, not the whole frigging world. Fallout 3 is just a very global karma, and joining that with the moral compass Bethesda introduced, it fails horribly.

  86. And to think I was considering buying an Xbox to play this.

  87. Felblood says:

    So Shamus, would the quest have been less one-dimensional, if there had been a path to let Roy’s friends inside and leave Roy himself outside?

    From your description, this seems like the optimal solution, both for you and the writer, had he not be too lazy/short-on-time to think of it himself.

    It deprives Roy of manpower, making him less dangerous to society, while uplifting those portions of the downtrodden, which you describe as “harmless.”

    This seems like the solution you really wanted. It looks at the same issues without the childish simplification, that assumes that all victims are not themselves evil, but it still allows the player to have a positive impact on the world, if he wants to.

    Seems to me that the writer probably would have liked it better as well. Since this is clearly a paper-cutout morality play, I doubt he intended to teach the moral, “Rethinking your racist views will just get you murdered by the lesser races.” Something closer to, “Judge people based on who they are, not what they are,” seems more in line with the pithy morals they taught at my kindergarten.

  88. Spoiler …

    I like that:


    – Then I immediately went back upstairs and offed Tenpenny.
    – Then off to Roy Phillips telling him they can move in.

    I returned to the tower a number of times afterwards, through the completion of the game, and the residents (both humans and ghouls) continued to live happily together. So the only person who dies is Tenpenny, who I was going to kill anyway.

    So there is an ok solution, all in all.

  89. Andrew says:

    I remember reading a review of the end of the book “The Chrysalids” that pointed out the same problem you’re having with the Ghoul quest: Rather than work out some sort of peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the racial tensions, they just evangelized one side, had them kill the other, then gave a long speech attempting to justify the slaughter.

  90. Talrogsmash says:

    This whole things reminds me of an old Civ II glitch, in where, if anyone in the world for any reason used nuclear weapons, everyone declared war on YOU, even if you weren’t the guy who even researched the Manhattan Project!

    but then, that was a glitch, that they tried to fix, and this seems like it was done on purpose.

    Maybe they are just trying to point out that just because the “media” (the in game radio and your karma score) tell you to do something, that doesn’t make it right.

  91. Nabeshin says:

    “This whole things reminds me of an old Civ II glitch, in where, if anyone in the world for any reason used nuclear weapons, everyone declared war on YOU, even if you weren't the guy who even researched the Manhattan Project!”

    Actually, Alpha Centauri does the same thing. So either they made the same mistake twice, or they did it on purpose.

  92. Nalano says:

    @76 Zaghadka

    “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been found out, because it was properly executed,” or to paraphrase, “behind every great fortune lies a great crime.”

    It’s a trope; a well-trodden one. It cloys not because it’s unreasonable, but because it’s inadequately explicated in this particular instance. If you never actually explain how the economy works, how can you expect people to take wealth seriously?

  93. B.J. says:

    One thing I think people need to realize is the scope of Fallout 3 is actually quite small. I mean we are talking about an area that would fit into a 3×3 map grid from the first two games.

    Another is that I think the whole idea of there being rich people living in the wasteland is meant to be a joke. It’s an example of Bethesda’s (poor) attempt at ‘zany’ fallout humor.

    Overall I enjoyed the game very much, but I agree completely that the tenpenny tower quests are crud, and I’m glad I avoided that place the first time through the game.

  94. Avilan the Grey says:

    #28, QRTER

    I agree; the quest did not bug me as much as it did others, because when you think about it… If you do the “good” thing, it really is the Good thing, As Far As You Know at the time. Your Karma get’s modified accordingly. It makes sense. Karma judges you for being kind, and doing good. That Roy betrays your trust is not your fault, and Karma knows that.
    (Do I sound a lot like Earl right now?)

  95. Isn says:

    @ JB (75)

    Rebuttal to your rebuttal …

    I’ll take point 2 first: You express a widely-held view regarding charity – i.e. it’s all well and good as long as it doesn’t inconvenience one too greatly. This is not a criticism, it’s exceedingly rare to find people who are capable of rising above this (and I’m not one of them). However, my point is that I don’t think the charitable instinct (or otherwise) is relevant in a discussion about bigotry.

    More interesting is point 1. I would point out at that in the world of Fallout 3, or at least that much of the world so far revealed to us, the ghouls are actually a very great deal LESS likely to attack on sight than the average human. The majority population of the wasteland are … Raiders. So, if the Tenpenny residents followed this reasoning alone they should be MORE likely to accept Roy (than a human).

    In the end though, it’s none of these reasons that the residents use. It’s just that they don’t like ghouls *in general*. They’re not willing to accept the evidence – that ghouls though often surly, are not actually all that dangerous. Not letting Roy *could* have been justified on the grounds that Roy is clearly unstable, but that is not what happens.

    Now, if the residents had said “we won’t accept ANYONE, no matter who they are” I would be arguing the other side.

  96. Viktor says:

    #94, Avilan;

    The question is whether or not convincing everyone to allow Roy in, when you know he is clearly unstable, and that everyone not letting him in is actually justified because he’s contemplating killing them all if he doesn’t get what he wants, is actually good. I’d say it isn’t, and further, that his subsequent insane slaughter of everyone in the building falls on the player’s shoulders for enabling him to get inside the defenses. A persecution complex does not make Roy an innocent to be helped.

  97. Avilan the Grey says:

    #96 Victor,
    I know. My (Good) character bit the bullet and decided to kill him, because I try to actually role-play (not just go after “best Karma, Best XP”. I felt that she felt that he was too unstable.

  98. I defeated Fallout3 the first time being mostly good. I mean, I only killed who I had to. Seems I died at the end just to defeat it and that kinda sucked. What happened to the mysterious savior living out his last days in the wilderness and walking out into the sunset? Crappy ending if you tell me.

    Ok, so this 2nd time playing I decided to be evil. Pure evil.. the killing children (if that was possible), shooting cows, eating corpses, killing people as they sleep, and collecting ears off goodies like they are souls.

    So last night I killed everyone in Megaton (except the kids, why can’t you kill kids?), looted it clean, and went to Tenpenny Tower and blew it up….which was kinda cool. Very pretty with a nice view. There’s other instances I wish I had such a good view, but I digress. I then killed Tenpenny and Burke… there shall not be more evil than me. Now I have my private suite in the tower.

    Today.. or should I say ‘tonight’ (its easier to kill people sleeping at night time when they are actually in bed…dozing off at their cash register doesn’t work well and the waiting time is boring) when I’ll kill off the Tenpenny people and then open the door to let in the ferals, who I will kill too because lets face it… I don’t want ferals living in my building. Its like a house with rats.

    Speaking of rats, the cockroaches really bother me. Like seriously… ick. My skin crawls just entering a building infested with those.

    On a last note, playing evil has been super fun.. I really recommend it. Only problem is running out of ammo before you get the find more ammo perk.

    Be sure to download some mods, like the 5k weight limit is nice… no more running to town to sell stuff when you are too heavy.

    The new textures for some of the creatures are pretty good too, I mean the bahemeth(sp) now looks like a real mutant monster instead of a super orc.

    Mods can be found on file planet. Worth picking and choosing.

    Edit: Oh, I forgot to say I noticed some people do have jobs. Like hunters who you can buy food off of, contract killers, who tend to come after your’s truely, and soldiers who are paid for protection services. There is a farm on the map in the upper right hand corner area but I haven’t visited it yet so don’t know if its working or not. I guess its hard to grow things with radiated water. Lots of reptiles and mole rat things to eat, if you don’t mind receiving radiation from them. Its interesting that when you turn cannibal you receive no radiation from eating people. Just food for thought.

    As for the ‘vampires’ well, I’ll kill them too so don’t worry. Problem solved.

  99. LemmingLord says:

    Just wait until the quest where releasing Chinese commandos to brutally murder everyone is a good action, where as stabbing them counts as a bad action.

  100. Dan Hemmens says:

    Replying to a really old post (#42 if you’re counting):

    “Shamus: My nuanced comment was regarding blood ties. You need to find a practical solution for both groups not a heroicly good one.”

    Problem is, that’s not “nuanced” it is, in fact, the classic happy-clappy “get everybody to work together” solution. You get the people to realize that actually, there was no reason for them to be fighting at all, and they can all be friends.

    A *nuanced* solution would be one in which (a) neither side was good or evil but (b) they could, never the less, not peacefully co-exist.

    There’s a really nice little Neverwinter Nights module (of all things) which opens with a quest like this. There’s humans and goblins both laying claim to the same land, they can’t share it because they have fundamentally different needs, so the only way it can end is for one side to wipe out the other. Both sides are fighting for survival, both have an absolute *right* to fight for survival, but one can only survive at the expense of the other. *That’s* morally interesting.

  101. Avilan the Grey says:

    #54 Joe: “@Dave #8 I completely agree. In the beginning of the game I was always running low on ammo, armor, food, water. It seemed like the game was really post apocalyptic. As soon as I got to level 10, suddenly I was the richest man in the world and nothing was a challenge. Supermutants stopped being scary, and their behemoths were just an excuse to use the missile launcher.”

    I hate to bring this up, but this reminds me of… all RPGS I ever played, really (Diablo doesn’t count). Hit a certain lvl and you get equipment that turns you into god. You rain death on your enemies no matter if it’s by rocket launcher, magic missiles, or two-handed sword.

    #55 Naleno: Just nitpicking: After you solve the Vampire quest there are new Brahmin in the pasture by Arefu.

  102. Nalano says:

    @101 Avilan

    This happens at the END of the game, not the middle. RPGs are supposed to ratchet up the challenge commensurate with the power of the player. Hell, all games are supposed to challenge the player on all stages. Sure, you’re wielding a zweihander with disturbing efficiency and can bank trickshots with your dual pistols with laughable ease, but they’re also sending more guys after you and putting you in more difficult situations.

    Fallout 3 does do SOME modicum of NPC leveling – the raiders that were carrying pistols will carry assault rifles after you level – but they’re still just as easy to kill!

    As for the Arefu brahmin magically being replaced, surely you see that handwave for just what it was? How can we take the economy seriously if there is no, well, scarcity?

  103. Avilan the Grey says:

    #102 Nalano

    The problem here is that this is a large semi-open RPG with a lvl cap. This means that even if you have not really bothered with the main quest yet, you can reach a lvl where you can breeze through the rest of the game.

    As for the economics: I know. But I don’t consider the Arefu brahmin a handwave when it comes to the actual town of Arefu. As an example of the economy of the region yes, but I was just nitpicking on the comment that all their cows are dead.

    The economy does not makes sense, and I am sure FO1 and FO2 are better… But how much does make sense in other RPGs? It’s the setting’s fault we worry about this. Nobody cares how the 200 goblins survive in a cave in a D&D based cRPG.

  104. Steely says:

    You know, on the subject of those “eeevil” rich people, I think that Bethesda missed the importance of resource centralization in the Wasteland. Think about it – this is a situation in which we are supposed to rebuild humanity. How is that going to happen if there are no concentration points of resources (ie. “wealth”)? If all you have is a bunch of people scattered around with roughly the same impoverished state, no one will have enough to support any large infrastructure projects.

    And honestly, that goes into something that was really missing from a setting which was supposed to be 200 years after the war. There should have been some infrastructure by then. It would have been really interesting to see some basic manufacturing going on or maybe some quests which involved you helping the people of the Wasteland to build up a better economy.

  105. crispian chealuks says:

    I went for the “good” and as I found out later naive approach. I felt cheated and disgusted when Roy killed all the humans, I felt the need to cleanse the Tower with Righteous Flame and so I did. It’s a shame FO3 does not have a critical death animation for the flamer like the laser or plasma weapons, the sensation would have been near orgasmic. I know I’m sick, I’m currently building a mod to imprison npcs for me to play with, once it is finished I will leave a very nice spot for Roy, Burke, Tenpenny, so on my next play I won’t have to worry about this quest.

    P.S. Hmm… help people build an economy and maybe working trade routes, sounds like a DLC to me.

    P.P.S. Seriously I would have gladly paid $100 for a game whose setting is as rich and well thought of and as big as morrowind. At least in that game the smallest of settlements have a kwama nest to live on.

  106. Zaghadka says:

    @92 Nalano

    Man, you have got a “solid brass Balzac.” ;)

    That’s it exactly. If people think that wealth is only generated dishonestly, soon all wealthy people will become dishonest, because social behavior tends to meet societal expectations.

    Peace.

  107. Kotenku says:

    The morally just solution to the Tenpenny Tower Quest is to NOT BLOW UP MEGATON.

    And I find that the Karma system is going to refer more to how everybody else sees you, not an objective Heaven/hell spectrum.

  108. MuonDecay says:

    Shamus, the game actually does explicitly explain the difference that makes a feral ghoul.

    Essentially: Brain damage, radiation damage to their brains makes them go feral. It’s painfully simple and perhaps not too appealing an explanation but it makes enough sense to appease my curiosity.

    There are a couple conversations I’ve had in the game that explained that. One of them, I think, is actually in the very quest line you’re talking about here.

  109. Slyboots says:

    LemmingLord : Just wait until the quest where releasing Chinese commandos to brutally murder everyone is a good action, where as stabbing them counts as a bad action.

    [SPOILER!!]

    Im assuming this is the simulator quest you are talking about, in the games defense this is a good action, the people inside cant ever leave the environment (The doctor mentions this as he cant leave either without instantly dying)

    So in a choice were you either leave them to their fate at the hands of the doctor or “release” them..

    Like many choices in the game, it falls in that horrible gray area with no clear cut “good” solution.

  110. guy says:

    It strikes me that the best solution semi-possible is for you to seal the ways roy knows about that would let him in without an invitation, then maybe try talking the locals into letting the other ghouls in.

    It also strikes me that it would have been nice if you could blow up somewhere clearly bad with the megaton nuke. Like, say, lead a commando raid to free the slaves from the slave-trade center, then blow it up. Or maybe moved it somewhere else where it could be securely held for such a use without threatening civilian lives. I mean, it’s basically capable of getting rid of any target you can get it to, and disarming it is clearly more difficult than much of anyone can manage, so if you need to dispose of a raider group too powerful to simply walk in and shoot, it’s a good thing to have.

    Yes, it might get misused. Then again, so might the weapons-grade plutonium in the bomb, so you haven’t really disposed of it unless you lock the materials in a lead-lined vault and pour concrete on it. For that matter, it’s likely that other unexploded bombs exist and having one is a secure area instead of having to worry that the next crazy may find an ancient weapon design document and the radioactive materials that you left laying around is good. If it never gets used, that’s actually good in many ways.

    1. Nowhere got nuked flat
    2. It never needed to be used, which says good things about the overall political situation
    3. the good guys still have a fully armed and operational weapon to convince everyone else that pushing them too far is a very bad idea.

    Strap explosives to it and set them to go off over 30 seconds, and you can get the good ending for the basic quest when the right detonator is pushed.

  111. Andrew says:

    Man, I want to fire up the original Fallout now. Reading this made me think of the Junktown quest where following the labels and helping The Sherrif (who’s played by McGyver, so how could he not be a good guy?) kill The Gangster gets you the bad ending for that town.

  112. 10Kan says:

    What bugs me the most about the economy is that there’s only a few people in the game world (the doctors in most towns and the chemists in Rivet City) who are producing RadAway. RadAway should be to FO3 what water was to FO1; a commodity so vital and limited that the people who control its supply (or who can cure radiation by other means; again, doctors) are inordinately powerful. A non-ghoul-human eating a regular diet of the local cuisine would sicken and die from radiation poisoning in less than a year, even faster if they didn’t have access to clean water. The doctors and chemists should be the linchpin of their communities, not just another one of the services offered in town.

    I know that Moira mixes up a radiation-flushing potion for you after one of the guide quests, but that’s treated as if it’s the first time she’s ever made it. Of course, keeping with the tight, tight plot and fully realized world, it’s never mentioned again.

  113. Fineldar says:

    I think they’re trying to tackle these grown-up issues because the first two did it.

    Or maybe these quests are just really good imitations of Fallout 2. They’re capturing the spirit and theme of Broken Hills: good design and issues, in the words of one of the designers, by dumb jokes. Good show, well done indeed.

  114. Gustavo Ganso says:

    I completed this mission with the massacre of residents, I spoke with them and ended up getting sick of his convictions. Decided to stop them. That hero that everyone talks about not convinced me, he is more a colonialist with his “faithful” slave to the side.

    I think we should leave aside notions of right and wrong, in a reality where there are no more governments, organizations and societies, the concept of right and wrong, which is very concerning, nor should be raised.

    Besides, karma is much more than a law on what action is a good and bad to be done. Refers to the consequences of those actions.

  115. DeeK says:

    The beggar outside Tenpenny survives.

  116. Johan says:

    Heh, at first I thought it was someone else too, but I laughed more than usual at the jokes, especially the first panel, which seemed down right Penny-Arcade-esque (at least their TV Reporter guy they had).

  117. David says:

    Damn that quest is one of the only ones that really hit me hard. When i saw the blood trail i freaked but figured that he was an evil git so mabye Roy will do better.
    When i saw that they had killed all the residents i freaked out. Dearing Dashwood, that lady at the diner, the communist guy! I felt bad enough telling the shop owners to leave and die in the wastes.
    In the end i figured it was right to help Tenpenny then blow him away giving the tower saftey but destroying its ambition (though i think tenpenny is more crazy than evil and killing Burke might be kinder and leave the aged guy to him ambitions).
    Though this quest is the only one where you see that your actions and intentions however good end in death ( aint completed the game yet but from what i gather there is no epilogue) i would have loved to see endings where its says if you helped Tenpenny he created a large empire but it was prejudice or if you kill just burke or just tenpenny and the communist guy takes over.
    So many missed chances wish i had a pc good enough to run it so that patches could fix it all.

  118. Johan says:

    Oops, that post of mine was meant for the stolen pixels thing.

    Oh well

  119. Susie says:

    I think it was partly a matter of perspective – who ever wrote the quest didn’t really think it all the way through from every angle (or any angle). My D&D game last week was very similar. The DM described the situation (the party was eradicating a nest of orcs who had been attacking the local villages) and we were carrying it out. When it became obvious that we were going to win, we all kept fighting – wasn’t that why we were there? A young orc will grow up to be menace – might as well kill it now. Well, the DM starts freaking out, and considers that we were being EVIL. And, here’s why – the DM knew some things about these orcs that we did not know, and that they were not unprovoked – etc. Anyway, my point – we were penalized because we were seeing the game from a different perspective than the person who created the scenario. They have all these extra details in their head that we either do not know because they didn’t tell us, or because we didn’t look deep enough. Personally, I am in the ‘do the best that you know’ camp, and shouldn’t be penalized for doing what looks right in your eyes.

    As far as my game goes … I’m pretty tired of the DM punishing us (took away another player’s familiar in punishment) for breaking his moral code – so I’m going to adopt a strict code of conduct in game as a result of this horrifying experience of killing all those innocent orcs. He’s also a Roll-player, so I’m thinking of making a vow of non-violence. :-D

  120. Jack the Quick says:

    Soo….

    Fallout 3 is arguably my greatest disappointment in the fourteen years I have been playing video-games.

    The main quest is the definition of an idiot-plot. There are three main forces at work in the game, the Enclave, your father, and the Brotherhood of Steel. None of these groups have a believable motivation for their actions in the game, actions for which they are willing to both kill and die for.

    In order for the farcical plot to take place every single character in the game has to be a complete idiot.

    The best part, by far, is the very end.

    Anyone not interested in spoilers feel free to skip the rest of this post.

    <>

    You are given the choice to save your life or the life of Paladin Lyons from lethal radiation. Lyons is a character who (if you don't go out of your way to do otherwise) you will have interacted with precisely once in the completion of the main quest.

    The ridiculous part is of course that you don't care about Lyons, and even if you did, radiation is only lethal to =SOME= of the characters in the Fallout Universe.

    When I was finished the game I was being followed around by Fawkes, the super-mutant, a character whose species has been previously established as being entirely immune to radiation. Despite having this character nearby, for whom radiation is nothing more then a pleasant tickle, the choice remains between you and Paladin Lyons.

    … which is ridiculous.

    The choice is the same if you have the robot or ghoul companion, both of which are also immune to radiation.

    In addition, as a character you are probably carrying multiple means of reducing or mitigating radiation that you have gathered from around the wasteland, and this particular brand of “lethal” radiation has been shown to be not-so-very-lethal-at-all because the Colonel, an unmodified human wearing a leather jacket, survives it (though the game doesn't address this unusual turn of events at all).

    They set up an insane situation, and then compounded the insanity by not taking into account the companions they had built into the game.

    The opportunities, they has squandered them…

    I really liked this game until I started figuring out what was going on, and then it filled me with an ever-growing pool of incandescent rage.

    <>

  121. guy says:

    Radiation is pretty random in it’s effects, a guy in a leather jacket living through it is far from impossible.

  122. RC says:

    I don’t agree. The attempts at real world examples and lessons are not laughable. Their honest and truthful to life. There is an old saying…”The pathway to hell is built upon good intentions”

    The TenPenny quest ends harshly, but its truthful to life. I like it because it does not try to sugarcoat it, and say they all lived happily ever after. That is simply not how it works in this life. Its pure Chaos Theory. Every single action has a consequence, and out of that consequence comes another action, than another consequence. The TenPenny quest may leave a bad taste in your mouth no matter what, but thats how life truly is. And I would prefer unbridled realism than feel good bull. And the same goes for every other quest in the game.

  123. Paradoxrifts says:

    The simplest way of killing the ghouls for no loss in karma is to immediately travel to Warrington Station, once you find Roy make sure his companions have a clear line of sight when you engage him in conversation.

    Choose the insulting dialogue option, then righteously put them down when they turn hostile. Don’t take anything from the area that has it’s text highlighted as red, as the game will class that as theft. 3-Dog will still chew you out over the radio, but most people switch his endlessly repeating crap off halfway through the game anyway.

  124. mat says:

    u all talk to much its a game dont think to deep

  125. Hamlet says:

    We got a Zombie inside the comments!
    Everybody drop to the floor and stay calm!
    *takes out the gun and aims for mat’s head*

  126. Hamlet says:

    [quote]Also, I think killing Roy and his friends, altrough it is an evil act, I admit, it´s far a more reliable solution than letting an homicidal maniac in the tower, or than killing a whole tower full of people.[/quote]

    Okay. So we got ourselves a description of Roy. But what is Tenpenny then? St. Martin himself? He shoots people from his balcony with a sniper rifle and calls that a “Wasteland Safari”, he pays killers to liquidate YOU and engages Mr. Burke to wipe out an entire city, which I would say is bigger than his tower. By ignoring those facts, you demonize the ghoul and sanctify the _other_ (not: the real, but the OTHER) homicidal maniac.

    And somehow no one here mentions Gob – the friendly Ghoul of Megaton – if you don’t treat him like an asshole (like everyone else), he becomes your friend.

    What do we see? The poor people of Megaton (or let’s say relatively poor people, at least they got a walled-up city to live in) show exactly the same prejudices as the rich snobs do. Surprise-surprise! Bigotry everywhere. Murder everywhere, wasteland everywhere.

    The only right choice is to get on a big boat and sail to a country, furthest away from that radiating ground-zero-America…

  127. yeahhh says:

    yeah some quest just make me feel quesy in my stomach
    same thing goes for the “oasis mantree one”
    you can either end his suffering, or help regrow the wasteland…and get pimpin gear

    but either way, maybe the karma system is a bit effed up because in this apocolyptic wasteland, just like in real life, there are just NO good solutions present, you just have to pick the best off…which in this case is letting ghouls kill tenpenny…and just pretend that the rest of the residents eat babies or something…then you can sleep at night =]

  128. SteelBrotherhood says:

    It seems that nobody is raising the issue of private property rights. The tower is owned by Tenpenny and leased to a number of tenants. They are not obligated to admit anybody and everybody. Even if you don’t like their reasoning, or the criteria they apply, they have the right to draw a line and say “no entry!” to whoever they do not want entering their property.

    Roy Phillips is nothing more than an immature thug who cannot get over the fact that somebody doesn’t want to let him play ball on their court, so instead of going off to play a different game or find his own place to frolic, decides that it would be best to commit mass murder. If somebody is capable of perpetrating a massacre because they were excluded from living in an exclusive community, they are already far from an ideal resident!

    Anyway, in the end it goes back to private property! Tenpenny can do with his tower as he pleases! Private property rights trump the rights of people to avoid being offended or excluded. If I don’t want you playing in my sand-box, you can go elsewhere and find your own sand-box, but you cannot play in mine.

    • Anthony says:

      There is a concept in modern society that it is wrong to deny services to certain minorities just because of their race. It is damaging to the fabric of society to do this, makes the minorities in question feel like they aren’t really part of our nation, and society’s interest in quashing such abominable behavior outways any private property rights.

      • WJS says:

        There is also a concept that inviting someone into your house is not the same as a commercial service, and anti-discrimination laws do not obligate racists to invite minorities round for afternoon tea.

  129. Michael says:

    I agree..
    fallout’s sense of morality is totally out to lunch..
    still a great game though
    it’s not hard enough even on very hard difficulty
    but then again, I play metal gear solid on extreme difficulty
    so playing fallout 3 is walk in the park for me
    my advice, don’t be a pussy.. try not to use V.A.T.S. because it makes it too easy… and therefore less fun

  130. Tom says:

    I agree with the general evaluation of the particular quests mentioned, and also the remarks that there were too many “questless” dungeons; the questless vaults in particular were a colossal let down, each one filled with empty rooms and barely even a single plot item, just more regular powerups that I maxed out on long before, not even a single unique goodie (except perhaps the trivial bobbleheads), barely even a single moving or revealing survivor diary, of which I feel every vault should contain several (compared to the rest of the game, the visual effects and general execution of Vault 102 were also really amateurish) The writing howlers, such as the Lamplight Caverns, which are evidently constantly replenished with prepubescent children over the course of two centuries by some unknown force, given that everyone who gets old enough to reproduce is immediately booted out, not to mention the whole nonexistent economy thing, also stuck in my craw a bit (I wondered, for a while, if the idea was that the population was decimated to such a degree that all the canned and dry foods in the various shops around the capital actually could have lasted long enough to sustain everyone for two centuries, but I just don’t think that’s remotely plausible – I’m sure they just never bothered to actually think out a plausible post-apocalyptic economy, another wasted opportunity). I was willing to ignore the latter, barely, but the former was just crazy.

    However, I think it’s an extreme reaction to denounce the entire game because a handful of its many, many quests sucked (yes, even the second half of the main quest; I feel the whole rest of the game experience compensates even for that, on balance), and that, being built on a finite budget by a finite staff in a finite timeframe, failed to fully include every last one of the infinite number of complex things we’d have liked to see in it (vehicles would have been nice, though, and surely not impossible – STALKER was supposed to have them and actually did for a while in beta, and that was one of the biggest letdowns of that particular game for me – one should also remember that, while not every quest in Fallout 3 was great, just about every quest in STALKER sucked huge amounts of the ass.). The second half of the main quest and the ending were, indeed, the second biggest letdown of the whole game for me. The biggest, I feel, (and I’m probably in a minority of one, here) is that I didn’t get to do anything at all with the damn Virgo rocket. I mean, I went to the science museum, (and even though I barely roleplay my characters at all, beyond maintaining character consistency, the vault exhibit actually had me imagining myself getting flashbacks to the escape in chapter one – that was a nice bit of design work, although I wish they could have done just a little more with it), I find a perfectly preserved nuclear moon rocket, the museum displays actually tell me how to start its engines, and so I naturally think to myself “HELL, YES!” and spend the next twenty minutes trying to satisfy my chaos-loving impish side by hurling laser beams and pulse grenades at it, hoping to get the damn thing to ignite and blast its way out through the roof in a spectacle of wanton destruction, only for the crushing realisation to sink in that it’s just a static damn setpiece. That, I feel, was a wasted opportunity to rival even that of the main ending.

  131. Rodrigo says:

    not so random note:

    feral ghouls ARE mentioned on the radio as ghouls that have take TOO much radiation and thusly gone mad.

    so its not like any ghouls become them. just ghouls that live in nuclear reactors or such.

  132. […] Wait, what? Best Writing? Are you kidding me? […]

  133. B says:

    I think the only solution is to either have a player mod or patch which has ten penny killed by roy and the rest of the humans allowed to live or even better have a quest update through a radio message by 3 dog or a messenger from ten penny tower that asks you to come mediate the situation again so that they can get a new leader or maybe a couple new leaders in place of ten penny. Also I think the misunderstanding roy talked about was that ten penny tried to shoot him or one of the other ghouls from the tower with a sniper rifle.

  134. Sigma says:

    The thing that confuses me is that Bethsoft CAN write good stories, in The Pitt DLC;
    (SPOILERS!)
    You are called to the Pitt by a man named Werhner (sp?) who states that the city is controlled by a corrupt ruler name Ashur who slaves people in the Pitt and makes them SAD and ANGRY. You go in, eventually meet the ruler himself, and he reveals he was planning to (with the aid of his steel mills) make The Pitt into a rich, non-raider town and set his slaves free, and that he was only doing it because his baby daughter is immune to radiation and they are trying to find a “cure” from her. You can kill Wernher for Ashur, who promises to release the slaves, or kill Ashur for Wernher, who takes the baby, but it is implied he is less gentle to her. However, he does free the slaves instantly (or at least, the “near future” which in Fallout 3 never comes). I’m not very good at describing, but in game it is a tough choice. There’s no evil dictator or noble rebel trying to free his hometown, just two people with different ways of making people’s life better at the cost of the others ways.

  135. People have already highlighted that doing the “right” choice in this quest leads to Roy killing everyone. Like many others, my character (since despite cheating to the gills I was playing a character concept) then killed Roy. I knew it’d happen going in, but in-character my character WOULD have tried this approach at peace. Roy is vicious, racist and angry, but the owner of Tenpenny had no problem with him coming in. All that was needed for a peaceful approach was to talk to some people. A few bigots are in the tower, but many of those people are quite friendly and even likable. Even the Communist was very pleasant and polite. Then, in-character, my response upon seeing my plans go to waste would have been to imprison Roy or try to talk to him about making amends. Since neither are possible in context of the game, I killed him.

    I actually disagree with you, Shamus, about the moral choices: I thought that killing Roy would only be justifiable once it was clear he had no capacity whatsoever to embrace peace. My problem with the quest is the moral dissonance AFTERWARDS. The game may be trying to be ambiguous, giving you hard choices, but then it gives you a simple up-or-down moral compass. After you do the right thing… horrible things happen. Innocent people DON’T die if you do the evil thing. It was this tendency that led me to use “rewardkarma” in the console repeatedly. I’m not about to be judged by a video game. The worst part is that the game is VERY good about making your actions feel worthy: NPCs come up to you to hand you items if you’ve been good, thanking you for your good work.

    The Tranquility Lane simulation is similar. You can either torment people or kill them. Killing them is bittersweet at best: Yes, they’re no longer under this madman’s control, but if you just play along (and lose Karma), at least they’re still alive. But the BIG problem is that after you do that, you can’t kill him, negative Karma or not. He’s in an invincible pod, despite the fact that you have a miniature nuke on hand. Not only is this a way to deprive players of satisfaction, especially since there’s a terminal that governs his pod, but it’s also a way to limit MORAL decisions. I think that living in his simulated world is too good for him. Others disagree, finding his fate poignant. Great. Leave that choice to the player.

    Then there’s a lot of characterization problems in the dialogue. I found that either there were no options to be anything but mean, like when talking to Dukov’s ladies, or that there’s only a smarmy and an inexcusably mean choice. Even beyond that, though, it’s impossible to come across as anything besides either an abandoned kid or a total brat when it comes to your father (ably played by Liam Neeson). My character was totally in support of his dad and wanted to help him save the wasteland immediately.

    And then there’s just minor, weird things. So I can kill someone and gain Karma, but if I take their stuff afterwards, to distribute it back into the economy… that’s wrong?

    Steel: The problem is that they don’t want him to play ball because he’s black (or a ghoul). Further, you don’t FORCE them to accept him. You convince the owner. I’m not a huge fan of private property, but it’s moot because the most moral path I think there is (negotiating between the two factions and bringing peace) involved CONVINCING people to do something different. Some bigots move out. Boohoo. That having been said, there IS an argument to kill Roy. He’s clearly dangerous. The guy isn’t some innocent third party: He’s planning genocide unless you stop him! I could see someone saying, “You know, I have to stop you from murder” and not being a bad guy. Roy then tries to kill you, you lose Karma. Silly.

    Not to mention that, in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the idea of private property is sketchy at best. Is private property what you can take? Then the raiders are good guys…

    @ those who argue that it’s silly to harp on this: The game is very fun. But it really breaks my immersion when the game’s moral compass goes totally haywire.

    I thought the Harold quest was handled beautifully. I was initially leaning towards killing him. But I decided to accelerate the growth, then talk to him. After all, his rights to die are legitimate, but the rights of the people who need him are also serious. Luckily, I convinced Harold that he had been selfish. He decided to give the people one more chance. It was a very beautiful ending, and I immediately thought, “Man, so THIS is a good quest”.

    @ Hamlet: That’s exactly why I pursued peace. No one involved was blameless or perfect: In fact, both sides had committed monstrous things. So, like lots of peace negotiations, we began by getting both sides to agree to a compromise. My only problem was the dissonance where you’re PUNISHED for doing the right thing…

  136. Sorry for the double post, edit closed off a minute early.

    @ those who thought the quest introduced moral complexity: Fine. In that case, get rid of the karma compass. If you’re going to have ambiguous morality, make the compass more sophisticated or just don’t have it. As it is, the vampires quest was a good example of what you could do. You could reason that the vampires need to be eliminated out of justice concerns, e.g. Shamus’ point about the hostage takers, or you could reason that peace in the wasteland is best. I thought it was a mutually beneficial arrangement that emerged from peace, and I thought the conflict between the two groups was due to misunderstanding, paranoia, fear, suspicion, etc. Resolving that was good.

    But the Roy quest… Ugh. See, the game isn’t telling me, ‘Even the downtrodden minority can have evil members’, because it already told me that with the feral ghouls, the glowing ones, and Roy’s incredibly douche behavior. I only pursued the path I did because I feel that peace is worth achieving: Both Roy and Tenpenny are reprehensible people, but the people of Tenpenny nor the ghouls in the corridors deserve to suffer or be discriminated against because of their leaders’ vile behavior. The game isn’t telling me that morality is ambiguous: I knew that, thanks. These Aesops are insulting.

    No, what the game is doing is pointing at you and laughing. Roy is clearly a violent guy. So when you bring him into the tower, do you

    a) Get him anger management?
    b) Create a grievance resolving or conflict resolving board so that Roy can have a better outlet?
    c) Bring in sentry bots or Protectrons to defend the Tower, including from its own residents?
    d) Put on a slave collar that’s linked to a trustworthy guard?
    e) Warn Roy that if he harms anyone in Tenpenny you’ll kill him?
    f) Tell Tenpenny to keep an eye on Roy but that the other ghouls aren’t so bad?
    g) Tell the other ghouls that Roy might turn on the humans and to be sure to attack him them?
    h) Force the ghouls to disarm, given their history of conflict?

    No. You can’t do any of those, or dozens of other options. Like with Shamus’ Fable review, the game isn’t smarter than you, it’s made it so that your only options are stupid ones.

    Moral ambiguity is great. Having well-intentioned decisions lead to bad consequences can be just fine. But a) I’m playing a game for an experience. In this case, I was playing the game to be heroic, after a villainous runthrough. This deprived me of that chance. So the game MAY, arguably, have been more sophisticated for it, but it was also less fun.

    b) If the game can’t SUPPORT that moral ambiguity, it shouldn’t have it. The fact that Roy was a dangerous powderkeg was obvious. In a pen and paper RPG, I’d have done at LEAST a, b, c, e, f and g from above. I might not have pursued h because it’d be unfair to have them disarm if other residents wouldn’t, and d is inappropriate. But within the game world, there were dozens of solutions that you could have created to prevent the events from happening. You can’t pursue them because the game, the GM, is lying to you and telling you that you just can’t do that, because.

    If your quests can’t support the moral ambiguity you’re looking for because reasonable approaches can’t be pursued, then scrap the ambiguity. Even without Roy killing the townspeople, there’s still plenty of controversy on these comments.

  137. Diegoheavens says:

    Tell me if this works. Do the peaceful resolution, when you tell roy and the others they begin to run across the tunnels and wasteland to Tenpenny Tower. In this, Kill Roy, let the others go into the tower, though you may take a karma hit, no ghoul infestation occurs and no angry residents attack right? Anyone tried this COA?

  138. […] as irrelevant to your overall progression whether you went the good or evil route. One quest chain in particular, the Roy Phillips/Tenpenny Tower quest, was such a glaring example of this irrelevancy that the […]

  139. Ninja Pirate says:

    I haven’t finished FO3 yet (I waited for the Game of the Year Ed to come out) but I love it so far. Although there are some very valid points on here, there are a few things I feel are unfair on the game.

    1) True, there are small problems with things like the economy and lack of choices. However, a game has to, at some point, fall into a script. I was annoyed at how to go through DC I had to take tunnels – I though “Hell, I could climb that rubble or go through that broken window in the real world” But then the problem with making a game as the real world is “- but if I cut myself on that piece of wire I am about 200 years away from a tetnus shot…” So yes, there are limitations, but I think that they are very well defined. It is a long way from things like Resident Evil, where I had to go through the zombie infested hospital because my Assualt Rifle packing, Rocket Lancher wielding, Sledgehamer holding, kinfe carrying heavy-booted character was stopped in his tracks by “a simple lock”.

    2) Things like the Tenpenny Quest add a touch of realism I like. I play a good character (currently, The Last Best Hope…) and I tried to solve the dispute peacefully. Now, Roy was a ba*tard, but I gave him a chance. So at the time I did the good thing. If I was there when the ‘argument’ happened, I would have shot Roy to save the citizens. This realism filters down throughout the game – like how a random shack will have empty crates. It’s annoying, but people have been scavenging for 2 centuries, so it makes sense.

    3) The levelling is not an issue for me. The best leveling to me was the godfather (at least my generation’s) of RPGs, Final Fantasy VII. You could, as with FO3, run at the main quest, die (a lot!), level up a little bit just to get over the hump and then die and repeat at the next step. Or, you could spend weeks of game time racking up EXP like nobodys business, hit level 99 and waltz through to the end and make Sepiroth cry like a little girl. This is what I want in a game! If I spend hours and hours leveling I expect my fights to boil down to the Vault 101 Tankasaurus vs Raider Jr and his trusty pointy stick (and I have the anti-pointy stick armour).

    4) The only inconsistency that bothered me was the Mgaton bomb. I thought that the bomb here was the one that was supposed to hit DC. If a nuclear warhead that size hit where it had on the map, the whole of DC up to Fort Banister, RoD and Tenpenny Tower would have been a smoking crater covered in glass. Yet if you blow it up you watch a still impressive, but relatively small, explosion. I am a scientist, though, so this stuff always bugs me. I wanted a deathseen where you go back to Moira to have your radiation healed only to be told you have severe acute lymphoma. Again, not nice, but real.

  140. Black Ort says:

    But the vampires’ “victims” don’t need to die, do they? They just need to give up some blood, like you would to a blood bank. Depending on how large of a supply the vampires needed, the village could easily pass around the duty of giving blood on a certain day with out causing any deaths, or even discomfort.

  141. The_Bear_Jew says:

    need I remind you that Tenpenny tried to BLOW UP MEGATON… that is a little more than just being a bigot

  142. Looney_Wanderer says:

    I read most of the comments here, and came to the conclusion that most people here have a problem in taking ex-post responsibility for their in-game actions.
    The future is unknown and karma is not awarded based on what will happen in future, but based on the intent of the present action.

    Let’s recapitulate:
    – Tenpenny is evil, Burke is evil.
    – Everyone in the tower wants to kill the ghouls (all residents want that if you talk to them)
    – The ghouls want to kill the residents

    That’s not just Roy who wants to kill the residents, they want to kill him & his ghouls as well for being a threat, but I don’t see how Roy is a threat as long as he stays in the metro…

    Anyway.
    So you convince both sides to find a peaceful arrangement, believing they will live in peace together in the tower.
    This, in my opinion, qualifies for positive karma.
    At this point, you’ve also already killed Tenpenny for the “shoot them in the head” quest, or Roy will do it for you.

    We should add that the tower has plenty of HUMAN security guards, so the security situation is in favor of humans.

    And then, the ghouls kill the humans, and everyone here goes like “oh how shocking!”… without even knowing what happened, what triggered the ghouls to kill the residents?
    Does someone know?

    Real life too presents situations where all possible choices are crap upfront, and also situations where the solution that seemed the “right” one a priori reveals to be a bad one a posteriori.

    Consider this: a mad scientist designs a virus to kill all humans. He makes a mistake in his formulation and instead of killing, the virus heals cancer.
    Should the mad scientist get good karma as a reward?

    What’s truth:
    – truth that lies in the past is statistical
    – truth that lies in the future is probabilistic

  143. Zak says:

    It’s not even Racism, it’s situationism. they are still human, just radioactive and deformed.

  144. Max says:

    Hmm, your comment on one-eyed “humans” got me thinking. Perhaps these designers thought this way. Well, do we have a minority that has been treated second-class and now believes to be not the same as the others. Well, one could argue that blacks living in bad neighbourhoods exhibit this trait. They see others as Whiteys or some other derogatives remark, while it is perceived that we should never ever call them Blacks, but coloured people to diminish any kind of “difference”. I think this is part of the Ghoul-thingy in Fallout 3. Or I just think too much into it and give the writers too much credit when it comes to clever social analogies.

  145. blaarrr says:

    lol, soooo many comments are TLDR,
    trim it down, get to the point sons.

    but, like shamus said, i AM after all coming into a thread that has been for 2 years.

    lol,

    and everyone here is retarded. :P

  146. Geoff says:

    The fact that you can’t confront Roy is ridiculous, he effectively betrayed you and you can’t even tut.

    Also on the economy point it’s a bit stupid that every single med box, ammo box, and whatever contains what it’s supposed to, after 200 years of people picking it over. I’m playing through for a second time and I have enough ammo to fight the next world war, with over 100 stimpaks it’s just ridiculous.

    Oh and syntax nazi – that was a spelling correction not grammar.

  147. shorty says:

    allright, like they wrote above if you let roy in he will start off by killing tenpenny and then kill all the rescidents in the building. This does definately not make roy any better than the biggots. usually I dont kill ghouls unless theyre feral in the game, but I killed roy after I found out that he had killed everyone in the building. After all I had persuaded most to think ghouls are okay and they wont harm the rest. This made me a bit upset, so the fact he broke a promise sort of and killed everyone in the building made me shoot him.

    • Anthony says:

      He’s actually still considered good by the karma system even after he kills everyone, and you get dinged for killing him. I just have to scratch my head at this, was it unfinished? Did the people who wrote that plotline really expect him mass murdering all the residents to be the final, satisfying conclusion to the plot?

  148. ChristPuncher says:

    Jesus tapdancing christ…clearly the author of this had stabbed his brain with a q-tip the morning of writing this. Get well soon, man…Get well soon..

  149. Bob Cat says:

    I disagree with your argument. Just as the time is scaled as a fraction of real time and the size of the game area is scaled down as compared to the real Washington DC, so to are the fine details of the citizens’ lives.

    For example, the game designers will often put in subtle clues as to the nature of the person’s occupation or background using the props that are available in the game engine – it doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines and imagine what real world subject they are hinting at.

    Thus, considering the fact that the game is a scaled representation, I think it’s fair that they don’t show every detail. The details they do show are more than enough to convey the message.

  150. […] doesn’t support the findings beyond what is presented. Shamus on Twenty-Sided provides a good example of this in Fallout 3. First, let us observe the “plausible baby steps” that lead the […]

  151. […] As a counterpoint, one can consider D. Riley’s discussion of “The Situation at Tenpenny Tower” in which he describes a quest where even the “good” solutions leave a bad taste in your mouth. Shamus Young extensively critiques the logic of this quest, the options available, and the game’s moral judgment of your choices in “Tenpenny Tower”. […]

  152. Opiate4208 says:

    i took at Roy in the station and the other 2 ghouls. I went to go back to the tower and for some odd reason the tower was taken over by ghouls. I decide to loot the place after killing the ghouls. I make 3 trips looting the place and on the 4th time back the power is back on. The place is not ramshacked. But no one is there. No ghouls. No residents. everything i looted is back (it let me keep what i looted already) but now its takeing my karma down as i loot. On my 3rd trip back looting the second time, i walk in and for some reason Roy’s dead body is laying in the doorway. How weird is this? anyone else have this problem or just me? So i didnt get my caps for takeing out roy. i just lost karma..I cant find the dead bodys of the residents in the basement either..

  153. Vi says:

    I don’t know whether this makes things better, worse, or neither, but a lot of people will consider you a monster in real life if you try to say, “I don’t have any negative feelings toward group X, I just think person Y is a nut who needs to be stopped, regardless of what groups they belong to.” That kind of sentiment just doesn’t compute for everyone. So, maybe it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that it doesn’t compute in this game’s karma system.

    • Roland says:

      I love this quest and could not agree more with this. Whether the intent, it was a great message on the pitfalls of class warfare as a concept. In the real world media will demonize you for defending yourself against hostile invaders. Those who make a great show of being on the right side of history rarely tend to be, and this quest is a window into experiences of the so-called “privileged” who find themselves on the wrong side of public opinion.

  154. Anthony says:

    I think you’re forgetting the part where the owner of Tenpenny tower sits on top of the tower and snipes and murders random ghouls and people for fun. And also where he plans and orders the nuclear destruction of an entire town just because it’s an eyesore for him. The residents of Tenpenny tower, by tolerating his presence, are complicit in all of this.

    • Garrett Carroll says:

      The entire quest falls on its head. Most Bethesda questlines and single quests do. Shamus has done a great job at point it all out for something of a laugh. Bethesda has never really delivered stellar quests or questlines.

  155. Garrett Carroll says:

    I’ll admit, for the most part I simply ran across the wasteland killing ghouls, raiders, tenpenny tower residents, and still blowing up Megaton (first), not even thinking of the consequences. Yet I typically never paid attention to the fallacies of the themes and quests within the game, probably because I was stupid and young at the time. This post on Tenpenny Tower, however, says it all.

  156. I chose option 4 and left the quest unfinished, because the other options were stupid.

  157. The Borderer says:

    The alignments are all over the place in the Bethesda Fallout games. Herbert Dashwood is neutral despite his supposedly heroic background, while Irving Cheng, who is planning a Maoist coup at Tenpenny Towers is considered to be good. There is also a slave bartender in Paradise Falls who is evil, with no reason for this given.

    Maybe the unofficial patch fixes these problems.

  158. GeorgeMonet says:

    Ghouls AREN’T human. They are ghouls. They cannot breed and eventually every single ghoul will turn into a monster that tries to eat people. It is in every humans best interest to kill every ghoul. While some ghouls might be decent for right now, eventually they will all be human eating monsters. And since this happens at random, it really isn’t worth the huge risk. Plus with no farms and very little water, humans and ghouls are competing for the same resources. This again means that humans would be better off killing all the ghouls.

    Killing Roy isn’t a lesser of 3 evils, it is the morally good choice. Roy is evil, he is a ghoul that plans on murdering real people. Thus you are absolutely in the right to kill him and anyone that allies with such an evil ghoul, especially if they are also ghouls. Roy has ZERO right to live in Tenpenny Tower. He doesn’t own the Tower, he doesn’t have a contract with Tenpenny. He is just a selfish evil ghoul. He should not be allowed into Tenpenny Tower for any reason.

    Let’s look at the quest this way. You live in a large mansion. Your neighbor lives in a good sized house. He comes up to you and asks you to let him live in your mansion while he secretly is planning on killing you once you let him into the mansion. Is there anything wrong with you refusing to let him live in your mansion? The mansion that you own and he doesn’t?

    As for the “Vampires”, they could not get by just by eating human blood. The thing about blood is that it is mostly just water. The largest animals that eat blood, bats, must drink so much blood every night to survive that they have evolved to pee out the water from the blood they are drinking while they are drinking. Smaller animals that eat blood have to inflate their bodies by many times their normal size in order to get enough blood to sustain themselves.

  159. GeorgeMonet says:

    I can’t believe that ANYONE here could truly uphold the view that Roy should be let into Tenpenny Tower just because he wants to be let in. Just because Roy wants something doesn’t mean he should get it. After all if you follow that logic then you have a huge contradiction because the people of Tenpenny Tower want Roy to stay out of Tenpenny Tower and if people should get what they want simply because they want it then you’d also have to honor the people of Tenpenny Tower. Furthermore the people who live in Tenpenny Tower have ALL the rights in deciding which new people get to live in Tenpenny Tower and which don’t. The people of Tenpenny Tower act based on their own security of person and position. They paid to live in a safe haven where they have control over the admissions of new residents. Thus the only people who should be deciding who lives in the Tower are the residents. Whatever the residents desire must be accepted because they are the only ones with the right to determine admissions into the tower.

    When you try to force Roy into the tower you are the one who is evil by refusing to accept that only the residents should be deciding who gets to enter the tower and by bringing in a mass murderer into the tower who will represent a huge threat to the humans who live there when Roy has ZERO right to be in the tower.

    Furthermore ghouls which can go feral at any moment and leak deadly radiation from their bodies represent an unmitigateable danger to human life. No ghouls should ever be living in a settlement with humans because of these two huge unmitigateable dangers.

    Finally Roy is an evil criminal. He is ready to murder the people of Tenpenny Tower simply to violate their property rights. Not only should he not be allowed in to Tenpenny Tower because everyone already said no, but he is a murderer who should be given swift Wasteland justice along with his two coconspirators who are just as guilty as he is.

    Coveting your neighbor’s property was considered a sin in the bible for a reason. We have a long and venerable history of common law governing property rights for a reason. Just because Roy wants to live in Tenpenny Tower doesn’t mean he should and you certainly SHOULD NOT WORK TO GET HIM IN. WOrking for Roy in any capacity is evil. Killing Roy is the only morally good path.

4 Trackbacks

  1. By Half-Masked » Archive » Award Never Changes… on Friday Mar 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    […] Wait, what? Best Writing? Are you kidding me? […]

  2. By On morality in video games | joshuameadows.com on Monday Oct 26, 2009 at 9:11 am

    […] as irrelevant to your overall progression whether you went the good or evil route. One quest chain in particular, the Roy Phillips/Tenpenny Tower quest, was such a glaring example of this irrelevancy that the […]

  3. […] doesn’t support the findings beyond what is presented. Shamus on Twenty-Sided provides a good example of this in Fallout 3. First, let us observe the “plausible baby steps” that lead the […]

  4. By Fallout 3 | Ludonarratology on Wednesday Aug 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    […] As a counterpoint, one can consider D. Riley’s discussion of “The Situation at Tenpenny Tower” in which he describes a quest where even the “good” solutions leave a bad taste in your mouth. Shamus Young extensively critiques the logic of this quest, the options available, and the game’s moral judgment of your choices in “Tenpenny Tower”. […]

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