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Impressive Fallout New Vegas Mod “Fallout: New California” Out Soon

More than five years of work have gone into Fallout: New California, a mod that completely transforms Fallout: New Vegas. After putting in a ton of time and effort, the talented developers behind the project, Radian-Helix Media has announced that the project will be available on October 23rd for Windows PC.

Impressive Fallout New Vegas Mod "Fallout: New California" Out Soon

The team recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the project which began June 1st 2013, although some work had gone into the game beforehand, with a brand new trailer. The mod is intended to be a prequel story to Fallout: New Vegas which was initially developed by Obsidian back in 2010. Players will start their journey in Vault 18 as an outsider to the dilapidated Los Angeles where the facility is located.

Upon surfacing, players will immediately find themselves caught in a three-way power struggle between The New California Republic, Survivalist Army, and the Super Mutant. This is the preface for the NCR's invasion and eventual control of the Mojave Desert. The story takes place in the year 2260 which is quite a bit of time before Fallout: New Vegas.

A Long and Winding Road

Back in 2015, the head of the project Brandan Lee said that New California's narrative would feature two main paths, two subpaths, and eight companion characters, which lead to many branching paths that took the development team a lot of time to get right. Initially, they wanted the mod to release before Fallout 4 but now they are trying to beat Fallout 76's launch.

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According to the mod team, the game's features are all set and art assets are locked in, but they are taking a few months to fine tune all the side quests. “You hit this story with huge replete branches 16,000 lines of dialogue long you expect some little moments with characters off to the side of the big arcs, and there just aren’t any,” Lee explained on the mod’s page. “I’d also like to take time to revise some plot holes and gaps in the open possibilities that appeared in testing.”

The Fallout: New California Team will be opening beta sign-ups in July for fans that want to test it out early, which will give a look at the main quest line and the setting. As of now the launch scheduled for October 23rd is being called a Beta 2.00 release, but that does not change the excitement Fallout fans are feeling to revisit the west coast of post-apocalyptic America.



Microtransactions: Little Bits of Joy or Tiny Problems

Microtransactions: What's The True Cost?

In recent years microtransactions have become increasingly prevalent in video games big and small. Although they are a fundamental part of the free to play structure, they have made their way into games that players have already bought. Most of these low cost purchases only net the player cosmetic items that will make in game models look different, but that isn’t always the case. It seems that in a matter of years microtransactions have gone from a stigma, to a widely used and accepted part of the industry.

Overwatch microtransactions screen

One of the first “microtransactions” was the infamous horse armor DLC in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This extra content was an armor set for the mounts in game. When it launched, the community responded with serious backlash. Priced at $2.49 on Xbox 360, players denounced it as a cash grab by Bethesda. It’s understandable, considering it was the early days of the DLC and previous paid for downloads were very substantial. The horse armor was not simply cosmetic, it was a functional piece as well, which is more than most mini DLC’s offer today.

The Early Days

This incident happened in 2005. It is easy to forget that the industry was still trying to figure out how to handle DLC. With modding still being a very important part of the PC gaming community, a paid download for something minuscule felt like a stab in the back. Bethesda dealt with the complaints and time went on. In 2008 the Iphone App Store released and thus started the beginning of the microtransaction structure. Mobile developers started to realize the ad’s on games or purchasing price were not nearly making enough profit and quickly found a remedy. With the addition of small incremental purchases that allowed the player to progress quickly or unlock content faster, they were seeing a huge profit.

Pokemon Go microtransactions screen

Some of the most popular games to do this are Clash of Clans and Hearthstone. These applications are considered “pay to win” which means if someone pays more they get better gear, troops, equipment, etc… which in turn gives them a higher chance of winning. Most of the time someone can download this game and earn all the rewards by playing, but typically it takes a ridiculous amount of time and effort. Some games handle the pay wall a little more subtly such as a more recent application, Pokemon Go. In this players can walk to “Poke Stops” in real life to receive items necessary to play or purchase them with actual cash. While not an unrealistic accomplishment based on location, they can be extremely accessible or extremely elusive which forces players into a pay wall.

Console Takes Control

Console games have adapted microtransactions and turned them into loot boxes containing new items. Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Battlefield are all examples of games that offer boxes containing a random set of loot. There is no guarantee that spending money will actually pay off, many have spent a lot only to not see any reward. While these rewards can be earned in game developers like Blizzard have implemented seasonal rewards. Players will only have a limited time to earn specific themed gear, which is very easy to miss if they can not log into the game.

Titanfall 2 microtransactions screen

With microtransactions becoming almost unavoidable in today’s market, it is hard not to question if they will remain. However, it looks as though these small payments are here to stay. It is hard to say whether they benefit the player or just the developer. Nothing is forcing a player's hand, but cool content that is merely cosmetic shouldn’t be hidden behind a paywall. It can feel cheap and like something forced in by a publisher just to make a buck. On the other hand, this could encourage developers to extend the lifetime of a game because there is still profit to be had.

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Where Did Cheat Codes Go? Let’s Find Out

Cheat Codes and Modern Gaming

Once a common feature in many video games, cheat codes have seemingly disappeared from the mainstream gaming scene. These helpful tools were meant to make a game more accessible to those that may not have had the skill to beat the experience as intended. Or for some that just wanted to have some fun after beating the game. As time went on, developers slowly stopped including these in their games and not many gamers have questioned why. Cheat codes can still be found in some rare cases but for the most part these unique workarounds are almost extinct.

Cheat codes are split into many different categories that would change a player's experience depending on how they wanted to play. Some codes were intended to make the game simpler, they would give the character unlimited health or lives and make them invincible. Other cheats would make an experience tougher by giving the enemies better weapons or increasing their aggressiveness. In a lot of cases cheat codes could fundamentally change a game experience by replacing character models or adding in content that didn’t make the final cut.

The Early Days

During the early Nintendo days, it was common to see a game with cheat codes. Without the internet readily available, players would have to experiment with different button combinations to find the hidden gems. After discovering a code the only way it was shared was between friends or in the occasional gaming magazine. Eventually books were made that contained a list of games and their corresponding codes. Taking it a step further were pieces of tech like the Game Shark or Game Genie. These tools would essentially mod your game on the fly and were typically frowned upon by developers. This did not stop thousands of people from modding old school console games and making awesome workarounds the original creators never intended. For example, throwing a Game Shark into an old school Gameboy and modding Pokemon let the player get unreleased monsters like Mew.

When the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii were released these easy to use mod tools disappeared and supported cheat codes were slowly being phased out. This could have been for many reasons, one being that games were becoming easier. With the internet becoming a larger gaming resource, gamers could look up guides and “how to” videos. The internet also increased the competitive nature of the industry. Gamers could now compare high scores and compete in online multiplayer matches and cheat codes would ruin these experiences. Achievements and trophies also saw life during this era. These bragging rights are show-offable milestones that have a specific task and value accompanied with them. Typically a player is unable to earn these awards when a cheat code is used, so most would avoid the use of them all together.

Slowly Fading Away

As the years went on, it seems that many developers took note of their fan base’s hesitance to use the cheat codes and stopped including the option. This could also be because story became a much bigger part of games. Games aren’t sprites running across a screen anymore, they are fully fleshed out worlds with epic stories attached to the experience. Maybe game creators fear the game could be broken by the use of potentially toxic codes. Although games like Grand Theft Auto still embrace the retro cheat code.

The new age cheat code seems to be mods, not like the ones mentioned earlier that were accessed by a device. These mods are created by hard working coders that will design their own experience inside a game. Many developers support mods, especially on PC and will release development kits to the public so that they can create all they want with no restriction. The mod community is slowly making its way to consoles with the help of Bethesda and their games Fallout 4 and Skyrim. Hopefully more developers add mod support to their games and gamers can see a new cheat code revolution.

It would be awesome to see more games include cheat codes. Making videos showing off wacky experiences would be great but it is not hard to understand why developers wouldn’t make them an option. It can be scary to let someone experience a game differently than originally intended. This can draw unwarranted criticism but ultimately I think more would appreciate the extra option.  

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