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Bethesda Talks DLC Size and Limitations 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-smaller-faster-easier dept.
Gamasutra has an interview with Pete Hines, product manager for Fallout 3, about Bethesda's philosophy for DLC, and how it's changed over the years. Quoting: "All these people are out there playing our game by the hundreds of thousands on a daily basis and we want to be able to bring those folks something they could do in a much shorter time frame, rather than just saying, 'See you next year.' That instantly ruled out doing a big expansion because those things just take so damn long to do. So we started looking at the biggest stuff we'd done that people really liked, but that we could do in smaller, digestible chunks. That's where we came to the Knights of the Nine model — it's substantive and it adds multiple hours of game play and new items, but we can do it in a time frame that allows us to get it out without waiting forever. That's what we've gone for with Fallout 3."
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Bethesda Talks DLC Size and Limitations

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  • I haven't even RTFA. But it makes sense to sell DLC for extra $$. Especially when you know that lots of people are hooked on to your game. Cashing in on addiction is a very old strategy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TibbonZero (571809)
      Yea, and it makes sense too on the player's end. I'd rather pay $15 for some more really fun experiences in a game that I already know I like, than waste $50 on a game that I might not really enjoy all that much.
    • by TheEldest (913804) <{theeldest} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @01:52AM (#27566873)

      The point of the article, though, isn't whether they should make DLC. It's whether they should do additional content in a DLC or as a full expansion. If you remember Morrowind, there were two huge expansion packs (Bloodmoon and Tribunal). Each with an amount of play almost equal to the original game.

      But Knights of the Nine, a DLC for Oblivion, only gave 10 - 15 hours of play (that of a standard primary quest line).

      Easier and quicker to release and sold for less than an expansion.

      Personally, I'd like an expansion over DLC (if this is the given choice). I'm ok waiting.

      • by superppl (1318895)

        Maybe after they release a bunch of DLC, they can put it all together in one package and sell it as an expansion.
        I wouldn't mind the wait, it'll take that long before I have a computer that can play it reasonably.

      • by Zumbs (1241138)
        Not only did the expansion packs for Morrowind add lots of extra stuff to do, they also improved on a number of features of the overall game. At least I seem to recall that the Journal became a lot more useful after one of the expansion packs. This is not really possible with the DLCs as the exe would most likely have to be patched for that. But then again ... they are patching the Fallout 3 engine to expand the scripting language to handle the new worldspaces.
  • I find it amusing... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @01:17AM (#27566723) Homepage Journal

    ...that the DLC model was supposed to be modeled after the mod communities for Quake and Unreal. Yet somehow, I have seen almost no sign of anything that looks like post-release modifications. Studios seem to hold back a bit of content, then release that as DLC. Not exactly the original intent. Especially when the game is incomplete without the DLC.

    (Interestingly, Mega Man 9 walked a fine line there. Technically, all the "DLC" was already in the executable. Yet the stuff you paid for was truly above and beyond the primary gameplay. Which made it ideal as either Easter Eggs or DLC. Kudos to Capcom for at least getting that right.)

    • The DLC in Burnout Paradise has all been new additions. They've also added some substantial new content in free updates over the year and a half or so since the game was first released. EA definitely gets props from me for doing it right on that one.

    • Yeah, I'm not seeing the difference between DLC and what Valve did in the patches for the original HL (i.e. practically remade the game with addons) except you have to pay for it.
    • by MaineCoon (12585)

      Games generally have to be content locked a month to two (depending on PC vs console and lead times on manufacturing); during this time the majority of the development team is freed up. This time can be spent on making some new content for release as DLC. Sometimes the content had seen some effort earlier on in the development cycle, then was cut from the game before it was finished.

      That said, I've worked on a couple teams that make maps during development that were later released as DLC. Usually the con

  • by Quothz (683368) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @01:29AM (#27566765) Journal
    Am I the only person who hasn't a clue what DLC means? Neither the summary nor the fucking article can be bothered to tell me.
  • Support (Score:2, Interesting)

    Too bad Bethesda can't seem to patch their games. VATS (the over-hyped, poor attempt at appeasing turn-based combat fans and only marketable aspect of the game's combat) has been broken for months now. I'd take "see you in a year" if it meant they actually fixed more bugs than they made. http://www.bethsoft.com/bgsforums/index.php?showtopic=973957 [bethsoft.com]
    • Precisely (Score:3, Interesting)

      by caitsith01 (606117)

      As far as I am concerned, Bethesda still hasn't released a final, stable build of the base game. Instead of wasting time with minor content additions, they should really sort out the fundamental stability problems the PC version of Fallout 3 continues to have.

      In particular, I have personally seen severe stability issues with this game on three completely separate PCs (out of a total of three that I have tried it on, so 100%). Two of these were built in the last 12 months (one, sadly, for the express purpo

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CronoCloud (590650)

        As a trouble shooting question, that you might have thought of yourself, is there anything the PC's have in common? Chipsets, graphics cards, sound cards, specific drivers? That would be the first thing I'd check...if I was a PC gamer, which I'm not, I'm playing Fallout 3 on a PS3.

        • Me too. Honestly, I mostly only play console games these days because they tend to be more stable than their PC counterparts.

      • by Gromius (677157)
        I'm with you, the game is good but god damn its buggy as hell. I've lucked out in that its playable for me but its still a little ropey. Graphical artifacts occasionally on the far right (a dial appears there flickering), occasional crashes to desktop (relatively rare although molerats seem to cause it frequently) and alt-tabing means instant hang. I've noticed that if it starts crashing, it will become much more frequent untill a reboot.

        Again this is on a fairly standard high end build (at the time) that
      • by SalaSSin (1414849)
        Have to say never had a problem with Fall Out (well, no problem i couldn't solve anyway), but what i had with several games is a bizarre one worth checking out:

        If you use a bluetooth keyboard and/or mouse, uninstall the vendors drivers, and use the standard WIDCOMM drivers included in windows.
        Solved my problems with FEAR and its expansion packs and Call Of Duty 5.
        • by wjousts (1529427)
          I have to agree. I've seen maybe one or two crashes in hours of game play and nothing that took the whole system down. Sounds like there's something else going on.
      • by Dunkirk (238653) *

        I had a lot of crashing problems at first too. I tried Vista, both 32- and 64-bit, to get away from it (thinking it might be driver related), but it got worse in both cases over XP. I finally discovered that my memory wasn't correctly matched with my motherboard. Like me, you seem to have put your computer(s) together yourself. Are you certain that everything works correctly? Have you run memtest to make sure? Like you, my machine didn't have any other consistent problems until I ran FO3. Looking back on it

      • No idea what f3 uses as a drm, but I started to get bluescreens after installing Gothic 3. After some googling and stuff I tried to disable starforce drivers from the system. And wonder what, system started to run faster and no bluescreens. This is just ridiculous to pay for game and have bluescreens from the drm the game includes.
        Try to enable hidden devices in xp device manager and set starforce or whatever drm they use drivers status to Disabled. Then download no-cd and voila.
        I could as well just downloa

  • Wait a sec. . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @01:56AM (#27566885) Homepage

    That instantly ruled out doing a big expansion because those things just take so damn long to do.

    Isn't that what Valve said about the Half-Life 2 episodes?

    • by Ender77 (551980)
      Exactly, it sounds good on paper, but ANY content could take as much as years to make. If it is going to take as long as a year or two to make then they might as well make a FULL game instead of ripping us off.
  • by Kamrom (609839)
    Bethesda need to be quiet. We're all already very mad that their patch in January broke the game quite badly, and their recent patch did not fix it. We got the usual Bethesda Runaround. In any case, instead of making pointless content that unlocks stuff we shouldve had in the first place, or that no one wants, they should fix their game so we can actually play it. Its really irritating.
  • I thought the process was more along the lines of:

    1: Wait for Microsoft to cut them a check

    2: Release DLC for X-Box

    3: Profit!

    (no ambiguous steps here).

  • I think they mis-quoted him. What he probably said was:

    So we started looking at the biggest stuff we'd done that people really liked, but that we could do in smaller, digestible chunks. After that we thought 'given that HTTP downloads from a normal website are so easy, can be backed up and don't rely on some other system, how can we screw it up?', so we found Games for Windows Live. That's what we've gone for with Fallout 3."

    If they're going to do DLC, at least make it downloadable rather than pushing it th

    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      Oooops, missed a closing tag there! That last sentence was mine ;)

    • by wjousts (1529427)

      I, for one, am waiting for a boxed set of all the DLC. I'm want to pay with real money, not Mickey Mouse Microsoft dollars (which you can't buy in exactly the right amount).

      For me, the window is closing though, I haven't played FO3 for a couple of months and I'm rapidly losing interest.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        I, for one, am waiting for a boxed set of all the DLC. I'm want to pay with real money, not Mickey Mouse Microsoft dollars (which you can't buy in exactly the right amount).

        Just a little while longer. Amazon.com (if you've got a US Xbox Live account, and a US billing address) is letting people buy Xbox Arcade games initially, but I'm sure they're going to expand everything else you can buy in the Xbox Live Marketplace.

        Not that you'll get a discount, though - the price is the same.

        Unlike say, the Mickey Micr

  • by khchung (462899) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:28AM (#27567401) Journal

    I will hold off buying any of their games until I see the DLC available for PS3 first.

    Also, as with the "strategy guides" approach of the past, DLC will most likely be used to make you pay multiple times to get the whole game, it becomes simple due diligence to make sure DLC (a.k.a. missing parts of the game) will really be available for your platform before you buy.

    • by Zumbs (1241138)
      I don't think that the DLCs will ever be available for PS3. Bethesda seems to have made a deal with MS, so that DLCs are exclusive to XBox and PC. On the PC, however, Bethesda have released modding tools, and the modding community have made more than 5000 mods (take a look here [fallout3nexus.com]).
    • by feepness (543479)

      I will hold off buying any of their games until I see the DLC available for PS3 first.

      I don't really get this. I played Oblivion for about two or three hundred hours without buying the expansion. I've played Fallout 3 for about the same. And I haven't nearly seen everything in either game.

      Who needs DLC for these games? Most DLC seems to me completely superfluous.

      • by afabbro (33948)

        I don't really get this. I played Oblivion for about two or three hundred hours without buying the expansion. I've played Fallout 3 for about the same. And I haven't nearly seen everything in either game. Who needs DLC for these games? Most DLC seems to me completely superfluous.

        As a huge Oblivion player, I have to say that Fallout 3 rocks...but it's does not have as much content as Oblivion, despite being priced the same. There are a lot more quests, characters, and elements of the environment in Oblivion than in Fallout 3...I dunno, maybe 50% more? 100% more? Heck, just look at the books you find...in Oblivion, when you pick one up you can actually read through it. In F3, it's just a Pre-Ruin Book.

        I'm just using that as an example...my gut feeling is that where Oblivion had

        • by feepness (543479)
          If Oblivion was 3 to 4 years of inflation earlier you paid MORE for it.

          I understand what you are saying, I don't see it that way. There is a lot more random stuff in FO3 (Andale, SatCom nukes, Talon Company base) that doesn't even have a quest associated with it. I see them as comparable though I like Fallout 3 more (one major thing: more damn voice actors), but you are correct that is an opinion.
    • First off, their decision to not release ps3 DLC is why I didn't pay for the fallout 3 DLC. (I might have still played it, however)

      As for DLC in general, I'd rather have a 30 hour expansion in a year rather than load my game up every 6 months to play 6 hours of content. DLC just doesn't add up financially or mathematically.
    • by EXTomar (78739)

      I don't think it is coming not because Bethesda hates Sony/loves Microsoft but they have serious quality issues. The game by itself had problems on all three platforms. Anchorage was kind of small but The Pitt is supposed to be large and was a little broken when first released. They can't seem to get things stable so the last thing they need to do is sign up for another platform to support.

    • by Nevyn (5505) *

      I admit that I didn't get fallout 3 because I knew they were holding the DLC back. Then again, I'd happily recommend Bioshock and the ps3 exclusive DLC. In many ways the X-box vs. ps war is only screwing the gamers, on the other hand who wants there to be just one player (unless it's Nintendo ;).

    • Get yourself a PC then you can have the DLC...

  • If I could just pay with my CC, and play with it after an initial activation, I would do it. But the DLC of fallout 3 I had to go through loop and hoop and passport whatever. No thanks.
    • It begs the question, why didn't Bethesda sell the DLC through Steam? At this point gamers realize that Games for Windows is nothing but an attempt to put a slow strangle hold on PC games, so why bother with that in the first place? I think I'd rather not release a game for PC than release a game in a format that will turn customers off to using that platform.

      • by Kalriath (849904) *

        Um, let's rephrase your statement, shall we?

        It begs the question, why didn't Bethesda sell the DLC through HTTP download? At this point gamers realize that Steam is nothing but an attempt to put a slow strangle hold on PC games, so why bother with that in the first place? I think I'd rather not release a game for PC than release a game in a format that will turn customers off to using that platform.

  • I picked up Civ Revolutions. The DLC they have is ok but nowhere near like what you end up getting, fan and professional-made for the PC versions. Sadly, PC remains the king for modding. I think the issue is that the console companies and the publishers on console just don't feel comfortable giving up that level of control.

    As I understand it, Oblivion needed the fan tweaks to make it the perfect game it could have been -- plain vanilla as it came from the publisher it was lacking on both PC and console. Unf

  • Expansion packs don't sell on Live, and MS had completely controlled how we are delivering a supposedly multi-platform experience. Even though open-ended play after the ending is a feature that we promised, it will only be delivered on Microsoft's platforms, with the purchase of DLC. And after you purchase the three pieces of DLC, you will have spent almost as much as you'd spend on two huge expansions, but you'll get far less content.

    At least Microsoft is happy, and we're going to pretend that our PS3 cu

  • Contrary to the naysayers here, I think Bethesda has done a great job with DLC. Shivering Isles is bigger than most full $50 games (I am at 120 hours and counting), well worth the price to add more depth even to a ludicrously huge game like Oblivion (over 480 hours for me).

    Likewise, when you consider other games Fallout 3 was a bargain when you consider cost, entertainment value, and time. Even more so compared to other mainstream forms of entertainment. If they'd release any of the Fallout3 DLC for the

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