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Putting the science back in Wasteland 2's science fiction

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Putting the science back in Wasteland 2's science fiction

Development Info - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 8 November 2012, 12:17:18

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

A lot of people wondered why hiring a consultant firm to help with the science(!) in Wasteland 2 was even necessary. The good news is that ArsTechnica caught up with Thwacke Consulting's Sebastian Alvarado to shed some light on how they intend to put the science back into Wasteland 2's science-fiction.
To help shape Wasteland 2's radiation-soaked, er, wasteland, the team at Thwacke reviewed research on everything from Hiroshima to the nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll to determine how survivors and the environment would be affected. For example, Alvarado points out that nuclear blasts often create trinitite, a shiny green glass formed when sand gets super-heated incredibly quickly. Thwacke passes that background on to InXile and lets them decide how or whether to use it in the game.

One of the best examples of how Wasteland 2 will be intertwining real world science and imaginative fantasy probably comes through in enemy design. Alvarado recalls that the InXile team needed some believable enemies for a waterlogged area that had been ruined by a natural disaster. "We wanted to explore what kind of animals would survive in water and out of water, what animals do we know that live in a tidal zone and that could survive, things like that," he said.

The scientists found the humble hermit crab was a likely candidate for post-nuclear survival, thanks to its ability to absorb radiation in its shell and then discard it during a molting cycle. That's the academically valid, scientific part. But since this is still a video game, they wanted to make sure it was a little "off the wall" as Alvarado put it.

"We used radiation as a very simple gaming mechanism to argue that it makes animals super large, because everyone knows radiation makes things super-large... we'll just take that one as a granted," he said, laughing. "So let's let these hermit crabs get [so big] they can't find housing in their conventional shell and they'll actually seek housing in a bus or a telephone booth or something like that."

"So the whole idea is that they'll hide in parts of the environment and they'd actually have this stealth ability, in the fact that they wouldn't actually be seen by the player," Alvarado continued. "It kind of works with a bit of biology, it works a bit with what Wasteland is after ... it fits into this world that Wasteland has with bizarre and fun off-the-wall type humor and everything."
I'm feeling so immersed right now.

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