On Inception, Part 2: Joel Burgess

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Last week we tore apart Christopher Nolan’s Inception with Emil Pagliarulo. Today we continue the discussion with Fallout 3 lead architect/level designer Joel Burgess, who managed to tie in the Pisa Effect, the Rule of Right, and flying meatballs.

Inception’s dream levels are mostly grounded in reality. On the game side of things, you guys create fantasy worlds, but they have their own set of rules that aren’t too far off from reality in many ways.

There are certain expectations people have of reality. And unless you’re going very out there and fabricating an entirely different reality with its own rules, people still have very specific expectations about the heft of something, or the rules of physics.

There’s actually something we refer around here to “The Pisa Effect.” The idea behind the Pisa Effect is that something like the Tower of Pisa, when you see it in the real world, is backed up by the fact that it’s reality. So you see it, and it’s weird, and you say, “Oh that’s crazy,” but you buy it.

But if that was in a video game, and somebody had never seen the Tower of Pisa, they’d be like, “That would fall right over, that’s dumb, this game is stupid.” And as the level designer, you can point at the Tower of Pisa as much as you want and say “this happens in the real world,” but it doesn’t matter, because it’s about the player’s perception. If the player expects it to fall over, then the player is right and you do it differently.

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Planet Elder Scrolls Hall of Fame — July

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The NFL added some greats to their Hall of Fame this weekend. Today we honor the Planet Elder Scrolls’ Hall of Fame mods for July.

Oblivion Mods

Morrowind mods

Congrats to these modders (and Jerry Rice, too!).

QuakeCon 2010: Hunted presentation added

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Wanted to let everyone know that we’ve added a special presentation for Hunted: The Demon’s Forge at this year’s QuakeCon. On Friday, August 13th, inXile’s Maxx Kaufman and Matt Findley will be on hand to show off the game to QuakeCon attendees in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Anatole. The presentation will start at 7:30 pm local time.

If you missed news on the other panels and presentation, check out our previous blog post. Between now and next Thursday, we’ll keep you updated on additional scheduling notes.

See you at QuakeCon!

Deals, Deals, Deals

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Wanted to share a few promotions that are currently going on titles from Bethesda Game Studios…

Gamestop has some crazy deals on popular titles, including Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition (PS3/360) for $39.99. For more details head here.

Elsewhere, if you’re trying to save on Fallout 3 GOTY on PC — there’s notable deals at both Direct2Drive and Steam.  Through Friday, D2D is selling the game at $24.95 (that’s half off). Meanwhile Steam has announced the Bethesda Pack –featuring Fallout 3: GOTY, Morrowind GOTY, and Oblivion GOTY Deluxe for a package price of $69.99 (that’s a total savings of $24.98).

As always, if we see any noteworthy deals, we’ll keep you in the know.

Announcing ‘QuakeCon Done Quick’

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We’re another day closer to QuakeCon, and there’s more news to share! While QuakeCon remains free to the public, we’ve announced ‘QuakeCon done Quick’ — our new premium package (costing $20) that includes express registration, priority seating for special sessions, a limited-edition QuakeCon T-shirt and a signed RAGE lithograph. Read the details in the release below:

August 2, 2010 (Rockville, MD) – id Software and Bethesda Softworks today announced that a limited number of QuakeCon® premium registration packages are now available online at the ‘QuakeCon done Quick’ Reservation Page.  Five hundred (500) ‘QuakeCon done Quick’ packages will be available to residents of the United States 18 years of age or older on a first come, first serve basis for a cost of $20.00. This premium package includes express Bring-Your-Own-Computer (BYOC) or general admission registration, a guaranteed spot in the BYOC, priority seating for panels and events, a QuakeCon 2010 t-shirt, as well as a RAGE lithograph signed by key members of the game’s development team.  All items included in the package must be picked up on-site at the registration area during show hours in the Hilton Anatole Hotel.

QuakeCon 2010, the ultimate video game festival, will take place August 12 -15, 2010, in Dallas, Texas at the Hilton Anatole Hotel. QuakeCon will once again host North America’s largest BYOC LAN party, with thousands of gamers hooking their systems up to play on a world-class network. Professional gamers will travel to Dallas, TX to compete in pro and open tournaments for their share of $50,000 in prize money. General admission to QuakeCon is free and open to the public.

QuakeCon also offers non-stop fun and entertainment for those that don’t bring their own computers. Bethesda Softworks will be offering the first chance anywhere for gamers to get their hands on upcoming games, including Fallout: New Vegas, Brink, and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, as well as the first chance to see a live demo of id Software’s upcoming game RAGE. The world’s leading technology companies will be on hand to demonstrate their latest hardware and software in the 45,000 square foot exhibit hall, and every day of QuakeCon is packed with contests, entertainment, announcements, panel discussions, and parties.

The Hilton Anatole is now taking room reservations for QuakeCon 2010 through their custom QuakeCon Reservation Page – or through their toll-free reservations number, 1-800-HILTONS.

For more details on QuakeCon (which starts next week!), head to QuakeCon.org.

On Inception, Part 1: Emil Pagliarulo

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Video games have certainly inspired plenty of movies, but mainly in the area of bullet-time acrobatics and CG-laden effects sequences; it’s rare to find a film that specifically reflects the artistic creation of a game. So it was surprising when Inception not only brought the submachineguns, but also the subtext.

Plenty of Bethesda developers dug the film, so we sat down with a few to extract some of their thoughts. First up is a chat with Emil Pagliarulo, point man/lead designer on Fallout 3. Warning: some slight Inception spoilers follow.

I’ve heard people call Inception the first movie about game design. Going into it, were you conscious of any analogy to games?

No, I wasn’t conscious of any of that — it actually surprised me. And then with the Ariadne character [played by Ellen Page], they actually talk about the dreams being “levels.”

Right, “level creator,” or however they termed it.

Right, and then it was like, oh, whoa, okay. And it totally took on this other weird meaning. Up until that point, I had been thinking about the movie solely as a dream. But once they brought up the term “level,” then you can’t help but think about losing your consciousness when playing a game, and what that means. Sort of the same type of stuff that James Cameron did with Avatar, making the fantasy your reality, and where does one stop and the other begins.

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QuakeCon 2010 Panels and Special Presentations Schedule

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Before we head out for the weekend, we wanted to share some exciting news about the panels we have planned for QuakeCon 2010. In addition to folks you know and love from Bethesda Game Studios and id Software (including the likes of Todd Howard and John Carmack), some of our favorite people in the industry will be attending.  Below is the schedule of events…

Thursday

‘The World of Design’ Panel

12.30pm in the Cortez Room

  • Joel Burgess, Bethesda Game Studios
  • Matt Hooper, id Software
  • Neil Alphonso, Splash Damage
  • Todd Alderman, Respawn Entertainment

QuakeCon Kick Off — 2:30pm in the Grand Ballroom

  • Todd Hollenshead will welcome attendees to QuakeCon 2010

Keynote — 2:30pm in the Grand Ballroom

  • John Carmack’s Annual Keynote address to QuakeCon attendees

“Rocket Talk” — 5:30pm in the Grand Ballroom

  • John Carmack and Richard Garriott share their passion for Rockets and space travel in this special QuakeCon presentation

Check out the rest of the schedule after the break…

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We’ve got something “In the ‘Works” for tonight (Updated)

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Over the years, we’ve sporadically put out a company newsletter recapping some of the latest news on our games — stuff that you could read here on the blog… just days/weeks later. Moving forward, we’re taking a new approach to the newsletter — providing new and exciting information on our games, events, etc. We call it In The ‘Works (get it??).

Beginning tonight, the new community newsletter is planned to release on the last Thursday of every month. And each month, you can expect something new. To kick things off, we’re focusing on QuakeCon 2010, which is only two weeks away. Subscribers can expect to learn some exciting news about the event.* And whether you’re a current subscriber or a new subscriber, you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of five RAGE t-shirts.

We hope you enjoy this new format!

*If you’re expecting a game announcement, sorry. That’s not In The ‘Works.

UPDATE: To view the archived version of this month’s newsletter, head here.