Over the past few months, Wild Appalachia brought new quests, events, features, and more to Fallout 76. We’ve had a blast reading your feedback as you dove into each piece of new content, but now we want to flip this on its head and share some of our thoughts with you about what it was like to work on these updates.
We sat down with Design Director Mark Tucker and Lead Quest Designer Maria Hamilton at Bethesda Game Studios Austin, who were kind enough to tell us about their experiences designing some of the content that went into Wild Appalachia. Read on to check out their answers!
WILD APPALACHIA Q&A
Q: Wild Appalachia featured near-weekly updates and brought tons of new content to the game over the past few months. What were some of the dev team’s primary goals for Fallout 76 with Wild Appalachia?
Maria: I can only speak for myself here. My primary goal was to provide players of different play styles some interesting new activities. That meant doing a bit of everything and trying to make sure that it all fit thematically. With each new system we introduced, we made sure there was accompanying content and locations to explore. We wanted to add some surprises too, so the explorers among you would have those exciting moments when they ran across something new and shocking. I think some of the random encounters that went into Wild Appalachia were very fun, especially the Insult Bot who got rave reviews. Close to my heart were the more challenging events we added for those players that like to figure out mechanics and have fun in a specifically multiplayer moment. Fasnacht also enabled us to have a big party that let players hang out together and socialize.
Mark: We wanted to try out a lot of different ideas and get feedback on them. The first update for a live game is always challenging since planning and work begins well before the game releases. You may not always know exactly what will resonate best with players, so we opted to create a wide variety of content and interesting features to see which ones were the most exciting for the community.
Q: What went well during Wild Appalachia that you’d like to do more of in the future?
Maria: I felt like a lot of Wild Appalachia went well, though we had occasional hiccups. Based on community feedback, I think it’s easy to conclude that seasonal events are a hit and we should do more of those. Also, some players want to opt into greater challenges and want to feel they’ve earned their rewards, so we definitely want to give players more opportunities to accomplish difficult things. Last, but importantly, I think we made a serious dent in the list of player requests and top bugs. While we may not have tackled everyone’s particular pet peeve, we got a lot of quality of life fixes in and that’s something I’m eager to keep doing.
Mark: I'm happy to say this is a hard choice, because fortunately a lot of things went well. Player activity and the community’s responses to the new events we added were very positive. We’ve learned a lot form these events and will apply those lessons to new ones we make in the future, including Seasonal Events. The Player Vending feature and the Purveyor have also resonated well with the community. I’m interested in expanding on both of those systems in the future, as well.
Q: What piece of Wild Appalachia content were you most excited for players to get their hands on?
Maria: That’s tough, but I’ll force myself to choose just one. I was enthusiastic to see what players thought of the Shear Terror story and the conspiracy theories that followed. The ability to roll out content on a schedule made that whole situation build and build. We enjoyed reading community posts as the hints started going live and people started finding mysterious quills. Everyone was so excited when Free Range released, and the sheep was finally out of the bag. That was really fun.
Mark: Yeah, it is difficult to single out one piece of content. The buildup, hoax, and then actual reveal of the Sheepsquatch played out better than I’d imagined. It’s challenging to create a surprise that will work on a large, savvy player base. I don’t think we surprised everyone. However, reading the community posts during those weeks made it clear that it was appreciated and caught some players off guard. We had a lot of fun with internal brainstorms and discussions that led us to what we released. It was also rewarding to put something in the game that was based on real-world lore. I wish we could take credit for the idea of the Sheepsquatch, but that goes to the fine folks of West Virginia!
Q: What was something players did that surprised you when we released something new?
Maria: I don’t know that I was surprised by this so much as impressed. We have friendly players and so watching people hurling themselves off cliffs into water so others could revive them was pretty fantastic. I confess, I figured you’d just revive someone in the puddle at the Encryptid event so this community effort to help out was wonderful to witness. Also, I just about died laughing about the guy that accidentally cannibalized instead of revived. Thank you for that.
Mark: The response and how players have engaged in the Player Vending feature has been a little surprising. We knew it would be popular, but you never know exactly how a new major feature will be received until it goes live. This feature alone has turned into the game for some of our players. But the really surprising part of vending has been how players have started building and advertising their C.A.M.P.s! It’s great to see how players are rethinking their C.A.M.P. designs and getting into the role of being a Wasteland vendor. I’ve also watched some clever YouTube videos advertising players’ stores. Good stuff!
Q: Do you have any favorite community moments that happened during Wild Appalachia?
Maria: I think the initial posts when Encryptid started appearing and everyone was shocked at the difficulty is up there on my list. We had kept the event a surprise, and the response was really fun as people were astonished. I was excited when players engaged with the mechanics and started posting strategies for others.
Mark: The camaraderie and support players gave each other during Fasnacht week was amazing to witness and experience. I knew our community was special, but that week sealed it for me. Seeing players of all different levels coming together and helping each other through the event was fantastic. I had so many positive and memorable moments with complete strangers that week. As a developer, it was really rewarding. We learned a lot about our game and community during Fasnacht. That week, in particular, was literally a game changer for us. We have planned a lot of cool changes and additions for the coming months as a result of what we saw and learned from Fasnacht.
Q: Our first Seasonal Event, Fasnacht Parade, had players burn an effigy of Old Man Winter, wearing festive masks, and of course, joining a parade. What inspired the team to bring this holiday and its traditions to Fallout 76?
Maria: As soon as the town of Helvetia was going to be added to the game, we had to do a Fasnacht celebration. We did a lot of research into how the European versions differed from the West Virginia traditions. It was so quirky and different, we just had to go for it.
Mark: As Maria mentioned, it has been on the list from early on to have a Fasnacht parade in the game. The timing worked out well for us to add this as a Seasonal Event during Wild Appalachia. Part of what makes all Fallout games interesting to play is the blending of real-world histories and lore with the fictional ones. Adding content like Fasnacht creates a foundation of familiarity that makes our world feel more approachable and grounded. Having that foundation allows us to build more surprising and creative ideas that are not only entertaining, but also make our world special. For example, a Fasnacht Parade indeed makes sense in the town of Helvetia, because that’s a real (and very cool) event! However, what happened during our version of the Parade is very much a unique Fallout experience.
Q: Speaking of Fasnacht Parade, is it ever coming back?
Maria: There’s a holotape in Helvetia that mentions that since the robots are now in charge, they can ignore the calendar and hold the festivities whenever they please.
Mark: My Magic 8 Ball says, “Odds are good.”
Q: Now that Wild Appalachia is finished, can you tell us anything about what you’re working on next?
Maria: I’m taking a look at events and the community feedback and suggestions we’ve collected so far. In addition to tackling some of the suggestions that have been raised, I’d like to make some new events. I’ve been eyeing a few holidays that will be fun to bring to the game. We are working on something right now, but. . . I don’t think I can say too much yet. Best I can do is assure you that it’s doubtful you’ve celebrated this in precisely this manner, ever.
Mark: We have a lot of exciting new content and features lined up through the rest of the year. Nuclear Winter, Vaults, and Wastelanders are still on the horizon and we look forward to getting them out for players to enjoy. On top of that, we are focusing on improving some of our existing features and game content. The community has done a great job of providing us with valuable feedback on things that could use adjustments. Expect to see a lot of improvements over the coming months across many areas of the game!
Q: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions today! Is there anything else you’d like to say to the community as we wrap up?
Maria: Thanks for sharing such helpful feedback, both on message boards and when streaming. We do read what you post, watch as people stream the game, and play the game with you.
Mark: I just want to say “Thank you” to our awesome community! Your feedback and engagement really keep us going! I look forward to growing the game with you.
JOIN US LIVE FOR E3!
We’re headed to Los Angeles, California next weekend to kick off the fifth annual Bethesda E3 Showcase, where we’re going to announce more details about what we have in store for Fallout 76 throughout the rest of 2019. Be sure to join us live when the show kicks off at 5:30 p.m. PT on June 9 by tuning in on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Mixer, or Facebook Live. Keep an eye on Bethesda.net for more details about our 2019 Showcase as we get closer to the event.
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