Proposal for Fallout Character Database project

Kenton Taylor Howard

University of Central Florida

DIG 6836

Description

The goal of this project is to provide an online tool that allows users to create, modify, store, and retrieve information about characters that they have created in various Fallout game systems. The tools themselves will be broad in the sense that they will be designed to work with any game in the series, so they will not focus on a particular video game in the series, and could potentially be used with fan-created mods, pen-and-paper role playing games, or any other Fallout related media. I hope to create a tool that I can use in my own current academic work (which has been focused on the Fallout universe), and that might also be useful to others doing similar kinds of work.

The Fallout games are a series of post-apocalyptic role playing games in which the player characters a character who navigates the wasteland of America after a nuclear holocaust has destroyed most of civilization. The series itself spans multiple releases, various play styles, top-down, first-person, and third-person perspectives, and several developers, all over a nearly twenty year history since the first game in the series was released in 1997. That being said, the themes of role playing and post apocalyptic America described above are a commonality among all of the games, and they all take place in the same narrative universe. Most games in the series allow the player a great deal of flexibility in terms of defining his or her character's role in the storyline: a player can be the hero the first time he or she plays the game, a villain the next time, and an uncaring, neutral mercenary the third. The games usually a feature a storyline that centers around making moral and ethical choices in a deadly, survivalist environment, forcing players to make difficult decisions that affect the fate of the game worlds.

In most of the Fallout games, a player creates his or her character at the beginning of the game, then makes new character choices as his or her character advances in power. Many of those character choices involve assigning points to numerical attributes, or deciding between several special abilities that the character can potentially gain. For those unfamiliar with the Fallout games, a brief overview of these choices appears below:

The tools will create a "character sheet" that records such attributes from user-inputed information, allowing users to document their characters. The tools will allow users to store "mechanical" information about their characters, such as in-game statistics, but will also be focused on storing "narrative" information, such as notes about a character's accomplishments within a game world.

My audience for this project is, to some extent, myself - I am creating a tool that I will use in my current and future academic work, as mentioned above. However, this tool will be available to the public as well, and can also be useful to many different broader audiences. People playing the Fallout games might use the tool to store information about various characters they have created, or even about potential characters that they intend to create in the future, allowing them to record or plan out information about various characters they are playing in the games. Academics working with the Fallout games might use the tools for similar purposes, and might also be able to use the information directly in their own projects: for example, to discuss the impact of various character options on a game's narrative.

Required User Input

Functionality

Users can interact with the website in a variety of places. At a basic level, users will be able to access a database of characters and interact with it simply by viewing different characters. However, users can also create an account and log in so that they can create their own characters and make them publicly available to others. Logging in provides users with a great deal more interaction, most of which will take the form of text-based inputs.

Users can type input into a variety of places. The user name and password fields are obvious places, but there will be many other fields that users can type information in to as well. In fact, most of the information on a user's character sheets will be made up of input that the user types. Users will type in their own SPECIAL statistics, and use buttons to create text boxes so that they can enter their own Skill percentages, as well as their own Perk, Trait titles and their descriptions. There will also be fields for users to enter information about "Implants," as well as an "Other game information" (to account for in-game statistics that are unique to specific Fallout games, game modifications, or any other content that a user may want to enter). Finally, there will be fields for "Karma," "Reputation," "Character accomplishments," "Character storyline," and "Character notes." All of these fields are designed to allow users to input various narrative information about the characters they create.

As noted above, the majority of the character sheet created by the tools will be typed by the user, which means that there will not be many places where users make choices or selections. There will be a checkbox to remember the user, as well as buttons that allow a user to save and edit his or her character sheets. There will also be a checkbox that allows users to make their characters public so that others can view them. Since most of these functions are relatively self-explanatory, it is worth explaining why this project will NOT use choices and selections for a great deal of the character sheet information. Information like a character's SPECIAL statistics, Skills, Perks, Traits, and other details could potentially be chosen from drop-down menus or selected from a pool of possible options, and such functionality might admittedly be more useful for users who are seeking to plan out the in-game mechanics of characters. However, such tools are also widely available on the Internet already. This tool is instead intended primarily for users who want to store narrative information about their characters, and is designed to be system agnostic so that it works with any Fallout related media. This goal means that having users type their own information in is a more appropriate approach.

Information Storage

Other notes

There are a few pieces of functionality I hope to also include in this project, but I am not sure if I will be able to add them. I am thinking of them as "stretch goals" for the project - if I have the timeand coding ability to include these functions, I will. These include:

Site Layout

Image of the site's login screen.

Image of the proposal page.

Image of the character database page.

Image of the "my characters" page.

Image of the character creation screen.