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thinking about the atmosphere of fallout 1 and 2 after doing another playthrough of the sequel...

there's something about the generic areas on the worldmap with nothing in them, the places you can stop between encounters, usually just to heal up or quicksave while traveling or whatever. there's usually no other point to these zones but i enjoy that they exist. as far as technical details go, there seem to be four different types: desert, mountain, city, and coast areas. something i noticed while taking screenshots is that they seem to be more random in fallout 1 than in fallout 2, at least the "desert" zones. in fallout 1 there's always a random assortment of the inspectable background objects while in fallout 2 it's always the same layout. i suppose they may have just figured it as unnecessary for something that was so small of a focus, especially since they seem to have made the encounter zones more interesting instead to compensate, those are much more varied and even have containers and stuff with light amounts of loot to find.

i think about this though in relation to how i felt playing these games for the first time almost a year ago. i always like checking every random thing in games when i can so i enjoyed even just the feature of "looking at" things and having a short description given to you. for a time playing the first one it sort of made my imagination go very far with what might be possible, or what i might be able to find, especially again with these random in-between areas on the world map. i would check everything i could in case there might be something more to it, a secret to find or even just some description i hadn't seen before. just to immerse myself even more than i already was in the world i guess. those small details really do a lot for me. and again, there's just something about it. the first two fallouts don't have a focus on exploration by any means especially compared to the later games, but i felt a similar sense of getting lost in these places all the same, in the very particular way these games allowed it to manifest.

something i like to think about, was a comment i read somewhere recently. they brought attention to the fact that, in the isometric (or technically TRIMETRIC, orthographic, whatever) perspective of fallout, you never actually see the sky, aside from cutscenes or those little backgrounds you get behind talking heads and things like that. but in a sense, this creates almost a sort of weird claustrophobia, or at least informs some aspect of the atmosphere in a certain way. i think i'd say it's one of those things that stokes the imagination, which is always something i value in any creative work really. there's so much outside of your fixed perspective. even in these strange empty squares of desert, you're only seeing a small slice of the vast, open, empty wasteland your character is standing right in the middle of. it's sort of... cozy, in a weird way. but also overwhelming in its emptiness, in the magnitude of such it allows you to imagine. just one little place, in the middle of nowhere, far beyond the end of the world.


the "city" maps are also particularly memorable to me because of my first encounter with them. i must have stopped on a city square to heal or just got stopped by a random encounter of some kind, maybe raiders, but the music in particular made me feel a greater sense of importance to the encounter than perhaps there really was. what plays there is "acolytes of the new god," the same theme that plays in the cathedral area leading up to the final encounter (or penultimate encounter, depending on the order you do things in). and that's one of my favorite songs in the game, but that's the first place i heard it. so after killing the raiders or whatever it was, i think i just walked around the map, taking it the atmosphere, looking around to see if there was even anything to find in this random ruined cityscape. for all i knew, maybe there was. could be a secret, could be anything. and there wasn't, really, but i couldn't get over how atmospheric it was. just walking around that little filler zone, in effect nothing more than a backdrop for a combat skirmish or merchant encounter to happen in. but even that aspect alone can be meaningful, immersive. and it just made it even better finally marching into the cathedral itself near the end of the game.

but you know, it was also another moment where i considered the world in a real or personal sense, that immersion previously mentioned. it made me imagine being there, looking out across the destroyed city with not so much as a rat or junkie occupying the desolate decaying buildings. some aspect of the in-game system even contributes to this feeling, with how there are multiple squares of this empty cityscape around the relatively small area that's occupied by the boneyard and cathedral. you can walk for in-game days in just these spaces, through block after block of twisted metal and broken concrete. to put it very simply, i like this a whole lot. the thought alone is powerful, but somehow seeing the truth of it in-game is even more so, again, as simple and unimpressive as it is when you think about it in meta terms of the game itself. i guess things like that just do a lot for me in particular, i notice. it's the small details that count, that make all the difference. or just that i can latch on to and sprint a mental mile with. something like that!

i guess that's most of how i can describe my thoughts on that. i would like to put together my thoughts about these games in general eventually, so maybe that will come in the future if i do more with this section of the site. for now though, just something that was on my mind recently.