|This page is about the game. For an overview of Van Buren-related articles, see Portal:Van Buren.|
Van Buren is the codename Black Isle Studios assigned to their second iteration of Fallout 3. It saw development by Black Isle Studios until its cancelation in December 8, 2003 and would have been published by Interplay Entertainment.
- 1 Development
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Character system
- 4 Story
- 5 Locations
- 6 Tech demo
- 7 Notes
- 8 Behind the scenes
- 9 Gallery
- 10 Video
- 11 Sources and design documents
- 12 References
It was planned to use an engine that Black Isle Studios had developed for Baldur's Gate 3 (commonly referred to as the Jefferson Engine). It was a fully 3D engine that was never used.
Black Isle Studios also planned to include a dual-combat system in the game that allowed for the player to choose between real-time (Bethesda Softworks' Fallout games and Micro Forté and 14° East's Fallout Tactics) or turn-based combat (Fallout and Fallout 2) but real-time was only included due to Interplay's demands. Nonetheless, Joshua Sawyer had stated that the emphasis would have been on the turn-based version. Co-operative multiplayer was also going to be included in the game, again because of publisher demands. On December 8, 2003, the game and its planned sequel were officially canceled due to financial difficulties at Interplay Entertainment.
The following describes known details about the game's combat, largely based on forum discussions of fans with J.E. Sawyer.
J.E. Sawyer said: "The biggest stumbling block in Fallout TB -> RT is movement and AP. So far, the best movement translation seems to be this: high AP characters move faster since, for practical purposes, they do in both TB and RT. A 10 AP character will move 10 hexes in TB over one round while a 6 AP character will move 6 hexes in TB over one round. If that is converted into real-time, the 10 AP character will move 10 hexes in six seconds and the 6 AP character will move 6 hexes in six seconds. That's an analogue.
However, the general tendency in RT combat systems is that movement can't "really" cost anything. When characters move hurky-jerky around the battlefield, stopping to pause for precious APs that they immediately burn, it becomes a little... bizarre. So, what then can be the cost? The best answer I can find is: AP regeneration. A moving character never regenerates AP. He or she can run and run and run all the live-long day at whatever rate is dictated by his or her base AP, but he or she won't gain a single AP back until he or she stops (or perhaps the regeneration rate still exists, but at a pitiful fraction of its total value).
Higher AP characters would still catch up to fleeing characters in less time and either attack or easily re-accumulate APs that will eventually result in an attack into the fleeing character's back. A character who gleefully shoots a submachinegun burst and then runs for the hills will have to stop and wait for a full six seconds to get his or her AP pool back. If two characters with expended AP pools run the same distance, the higher base AP character will arrive at the location first and regenerate the equivalent AP for time saved by the time the slower character arrives.
This is not a perfect analogue, but it's really not horrible, and again, it has no effect on the TB component of the game. People playing using the RT system will find that certain scenarios play out easier, and some scenarios play out with more difficulty. Ultimately, though, it still has more fidelity to TB SPECIAL than any RT D&D game has to TB D&D.
If the advantage of firearms is range and damage at the cost of ammo conservation, and the advantage of melee is in reliability and good potential damage from powered weapons at the cost of (usually) range and less overall damage than firearms, then (IMO), the advantage of unarmed should be in flexibility at the cost of range and damage.
The highly skilled unarmed character should always have at least two moves to perform for each AP level between 2 and 10. Because interface limitations can be overcome in a future Fallout title, the unarmed character should have access to half of these attacks with one click-hold-release. Each move should have its own benefits and drawbacks so that a healthy amount of the moves stay useful throughout the game. The moves could be split into these groups: hand attacks, hand combos, foot attacks, foot combos and hand-foot combos. For example, the character could have Jab, Cross, Uppercut, Elbow Smash, Backhand, Sucker Punch, Spearhand, and Ridgehand as standard hand attacks, each with their own AP cost, bonus or penalty to hit, DT modifier, and damage. However, the character could also gain "two-in-one" combos.
For instance, Jab-Elbow. The combo would do both moves, each at a different hex. The Jab would go into the targeted hex, and the Elbow Smash would go into the hex back and to the right. The combo would cost less AP than both moves individually, but it would be at a lower chance to hit with each attack, and would incur a fatigue cost. Another combo might be Cross-Backhand-Ridgehand, hitting the first hex targeted, the hex to the right, and the hex two more to the right.
Kicks could have the same general layout (with different moves, of course). The kicks don't even have to be crazy wire-fu'ed out. They can just be regular ol' kicks. Snap Kick, Axe Kick, Roundhouse, Back Kick, Side Kick, Hook Kick, etc. You could have the same sorts of combos. Roundhouse-Hook, Side-Back, Snap-Side-Axe.
The most complex combos would only be available when the character was fighting with no equipment in either hand, allowing hand-foot combos that could hit four, five, or even six hexes. Axe-Backhand-Round-Spear, Cross-Round-Back-Jab-Uppercut, Uppercut-Elbow-Side-Axe-Ridge-Spear. The high-skill complex combo unarmed character is like a mobile low-powered grenade, able to hit the hexes he or she wants when he or she wants from round to round. He or she never runs out of ammo, but has to accept that at high efficiency, he or she is accumulating fatigue and doing less damage than a comparable melee or firearms character. But with more than thirty moves to perform at high levels, never needing to equip or reload weapons, the unarmed character has ultimate flexibility for dealing with any close-range encounter with small to very large numbers of opponents.
I believe that the different called shots should be made more useful overall. Eyes is clearly "the way to go" in the first two Fallout games. It shouldn't just be a "well, duh" choice. Limb crippling should be more common, IMO. Blinding should also have even more dramatic penalties, but the chance to hit the eyes should be reduced even more.
Well, overall I can say I'd like to see fewer damage multipliers, more crippled limbs, more severe penalties to hit the eyes, and crits that ignore a portion of the armor, but never bypass it completely.
Fatigue isn't something you accrue by doing mundane things. It increases as you do things like come down from chems (and super-stims), perform extremely strenuous actions (unarmed combos), and "bash" damage that's a portion of the damage absorbed by armor.
It goes up, hit points go down. Fatigue is lowered by your Healing Rate every round. If your Fatigue passes your current hit points, momma said knock you out. When your Fatigue drops below your current hit points, you wake up again."
The game used a highly modified version of SPECIAL (the character system used in the previous Fallout games) the changes were introduced mostly by J.E. Sawyer. Some of his changes include merging combat skills and dividing Speech into Deception and Persuasion.
Van Buren was at some point planned to have three playable races, including humans, ghouls and super mutants.
Van Buren would have taken place in the American southwest (Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah). The westernmost sites on the game map are the easternmost borders of New California Republic. According to the design documents, it would have been set in the year 2253. Story elements elements would have been reused for the canceled Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2.
The game would have begun with the player character in a prison cell. Because of this, the player was given a choice. The prisoner could be an innocent that was imprisoned because of some misunderstanding, or they could choose to be a criminal and take bonus traits that would bolster some of their skills.
The player would awaken in a prison cell, but not the one they remembered falling asleep in. Suddenly, the floor rocks violently from an explosion and the player is knocked unconscious. When they awaken, they find their cell door open and a hole in the wall leading outside. Leaving the prison, the character is under attack by some unknown assailant. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, the player flees into the night to explore this new world.
Unfortunately, this newfound freedom may be short lived. The player is relentlessly pursued by robots who want to return them to the prison. As they explore the world and try to outwit their pursuers, they begin to uncover an underlying plot. Why was the character in a different prison than the one they fell asleep in? Why can't they remember being transferred? What was the attack on the prison about in the first place? Then they find out about NCR's problems, and a few things don't add up....
Just like all the titles in the Fallout series, the story ends with multiple different endings for every community and faction that you interacted with. Their outcome depends on your actions.
Eventually, the player would discover the true reason behind the prison and the attack on it. It turns out that, through extensive research, the mad scientist called Presper, disgusted with what the world turned into after the War, discovered the history of New Plague, the virus that FEV was initially created to cure, and its genocidal potency, and also discovered a viable means to cleanse the world. Using ODYSSEUS, the quarantine prison, and a ballistic satellite known as B.O.M.B.-001, the way to human planetary domination and order became clear. He needed to get to B.O.M.B.-001 and use the nuclear weapons to clean the filth and wretch that currently have occupied the surface.
Presper and his followers released the New Plague virus in the remote areas near Boulder and Denver. It was close enough to the quarantine prison to spur ODYSSEUS into action, but not near enough to cause huge populations to start a general panic. Once enough people were infected and ODYSSEUS "arrested" enough people to just about fill up the prison, Presper’s men would stage an attack on the prison which would allow everyone to escape. This event would start a countdown of sorts for missile launch on B.O.M.B.-001. ODYSSEUS would assess the viral spread, try to gather up the escaped prisoners, and, once 90% of the prisoners had been retrieved, launch nuclear missiles to “clean & prevent” any further infection. By the time this happened, Presper had planned to be on, and in full control of, B.O.M.B.-001 and reprogramming targeting solutions to clean the areas he wanted. Humans of his choosing would wait out the second nuclear holocaust in the Boulder Dome, until the day came where he declared the Earth safe for pureblood humans once more.
Locations cut during development
- New Canaan and Jericho desalination plant (merged into the town of Jericho)
- Hangdog Village (design documents for Hangdog and Blackfoot tribes were merged)
- Circle Junction ("Iron Lines" place)
- The Crater
- Unknown Caesar's Legion location
A tech demo of Van Buren was created during the game's development. When asked about it, Bethesda's Pete Hines replied: "[...] releasing someone else's unfinished product, or assets from it, is not something we intend to do." Several screenshots and one video of the tech demo were released at No Mutants Allowed on April 30, 2007, followed by the tech demo itself on May 2.
The plot of the tech demo is not connected to the main storyline and was going to be included in the finished game as a tutorial. It takes place in the United States of America during the Great War, somewhere in the midwestern United States or the Pacific Time Zone. The player character in the demo is referred to only as Citizen, though they share a model with the Prisoner. The PC's parents were reduced to ash, as they didn't believe the government's bombing raid sirens. The Citizen made their way to the relocation center and was escorted to a unknown Vault by Corporal Armstrong of the 4th or 13th Armored Infantry Division. To reach the Vault, they must fight communist insurgents. After they enter the Vault, the PC must then help turn on the life support system.
There are a few things of note in the demo. The male PC's character portrait is that of Eric Wu from Eric Conveys an Emotion. The female PC is naked from the waist up, without the prisoner suit with the "13". The female PC also has no character portrait whatsoever.
- One of the more significant elements of the plot and back story of Van Buren was to be the war between the New California Republic and the Brotherhood of Steel. Before the 2010 release of Fallout: New Vegas, Chris Avellone, one of the main designers, mentioned that aspects from Van Buren would appear in Fallout: New Vegas. The NCR-Brotherhood War, the main framing device of Van Buren, is mentioned numerous times throughout the game, and a companion from Van Buren, Joshua Graham, appears in heavily modified form, as does Caesar's Legion.
- The name Van Buren derives from Martin Van Buren, who was the 8th president of the United States of America. Interplay projects were given code names based on the surnames of American presidents during their development phase.
- The game would have featured a settlement building system, though little is known about the details.
- Vehicles and a crafting system were also planned for the game.
- At the pre-production stage vast majority of locations were drafted by Chris Avellone (Circle Junction, Fort Abandon, Big MT, the Daughters of Hecate and Caesar's Legion, the Denver Salvager Camp, Boulder Dome, Leavenworth Prison) as well as some character concepts (Corp. Christine Royce, Alkaya, Job, Xian, the Hanged Man, Eddie “Crazy Horse” Galenski and his “wife,” Helen Wheels, Gen. Coleridge, Capt. Davidson, Lt. Pierce, Maj. Briggs, and Matthias Huxley aka Dr. Presper).
- Design document numbered 13 has not been released as well as documents for Fort Abandon, Circle Junction and the Grand Canyon.
- The Boulder design document mentions "Josh's Ulysses Part 2" as a source of information concerning ODYSSEUS AI (likely connected with the second act of Van Buren).
Behind the scenes
From an IGN article:
A short video demonstrating the Van Buren tech demo created by Black Isle in 2003. Presented by the website No Mutants Allowed.
Sources and design documents
- Van Buren tech demo at No Mutants Allowed
- Van Buren tech demo video at No Mutants Allowed
- Duck and Cover interview with Sean K. Reynolds
- GameBanshee interview with John Deiley
- No Mutants Allowed interview with Ferret Baudoin
- Leaks from the No Mutants Allowed forum
- Van Buren cutscenes
- Van Buren design documents
- Van Buren dialogue files
- Van Buren demo dialogue files
- Van Buren Pip-Boy entries
- Van Buren holotapes
- Tibbets Prison design document (designed by Chris Avellone)
- Denver design document (designed by Sean K. Reynolds)
- Boulder design document
- Blackfoot Tribe design document (designed by Jeff Husges and Sean K. Reynolds)
- Twin Mothers design document (designed by John Deiley)
- Ouroboros design document (designed by John Deiley)
- Mesa Verde design document (designed by Jeff Husges)
- Nursery design document (designed by John Deiley)
- Maxson bunker design document (designed by Ferret Baudoin and John Deiley)
- New Canaan design document (designed by Joshua Sawyer)
- Jericho design document (designed by Jeff Husges)
- Burham Springs design document (designed by Joshua Sawyer)
- Hoover Dam design document (designed by Ferret Baudoin and Damien Foletto)
- Reservation design document (designed by Damien Foletto)
- Bloomfield Space Center design document (designed by Damien Foletto)
- B.O.M.B.-001 design document (designed by Damien Foletto)
- Circle Junction design document
- Companion non-player characters (CNPC) design documents
- Briareus speaks out, NMA
- The Original Fallout 3 - Investigating Fallout Van Buren - YouTube
- Respectively - place of Armstrong's origin or the time zone on Citizen's Lil' Pip 3000 (Pacific Standard Time).
- Fallout: New Vegas Preview at videogamer.com (archived)
- What I Wish I Knew Before I Played Fallout 4 - YouTube
- Fallout Van Buren - An Overview - YouTube
- Fallout Developers Profile - Chris Avellone
- Obsidian on unreleased Fallout 3