Cul­ture­mas­ter

What does it take to cre­ate a spooky side story for Fall­out 4? We catch up with mod­der An­thony Pi­raino to find out

Games Master - - Contents - Anne-Marie Coyle

Mod-maker An­thony Pi­raino tells us about his love for tin­ker­ing with Fall­out 4, and writ­ing dark sto­ry­lines there.

Fall­out 76 is fast ap­proach­ing, and with it, Bethesda is poised to re­de­fine its post-apoc­a­lyp­tic waste­land. How­ever, thanks to a thriv­ing mod­ding scene, the se­ries’ fourth in­stal­ment has mu­tated and sur­vived, much like we’re hop­ing to in 76. From ex­panded set­tle­ments to ex­cep­tional weapons, mods can vastly ex­tend your stay in the Wastle­land af­ter you’ve combed ev­ery cor­ner of its vast open world. Among the best is The Lost Vault, cre­ated by An­thony Pi­raino, also known as Spiffyskytrooper.

This nar­ra­tive-driven dun­geon of­fers some­thing dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent – an at­mo­spheric, dis­turb­ing es­capade through the labyrinthine halls of an aban­doned vault. “When I first started the project, I ac­tu­ally had no in­ten­tion of fin­ish­ing it,” re­calls Pi­raino. “I had al­ready be­gun work­ing out de­tails for a story, but I never re­ally in­tended for the mod to be­come what it is to­day, I was just try­ing to teach my­self Fall­out 4’s Cre­ation Kit.” As it turns out, this 18-year-old Cana­dian mod­der has se­ri­ous skills when it comes to cre­at­ing creepy en­vi­ron­ments. On ap­proach­ing the en­trance to Vault 117, you’re greeted with a wooden sign plas­tered with the plead­ing words, ‘Please, we have chil­dren’, and it doesn’t get any less un­set­tling once you go in­side. The Lost Vault is a sprawl­ing un­der­ground fa­cil­ity where the light­ing is sparse and the ghouls plen­ti­ful. You nav­i­gate through the dark­ened, dis­tinctly bleak ar­eas of the vault us­ing the light from your trusty Pip-Boy, fight­ing off hordes of mu­tants, while slowly un­cov­er­ing snip­pets that form the story of the vault’s un­for­tu­nate in­hab­i­tants.

Gimme (Fall­out) shel­ter

The Lost Vault’s dark sto­ry­line fits in per­fectly with the Fall­out uni­verse, and is made with such at­ten­tion to de­tail and re­spect for the source ma­te­rial that you could eas­ily be­lieve that it was res­ur­rected from Bethesda’s cut­ting room floor. “I think the pri­mary as­pect of the vault’s cre­ation was en­sur­ing it was re­al­is­tic and be­liev­able, and most im­por­tantly lore-friendly,” ex­plains Pi­raino. “I’ve al­ways had an is­sue with how small many Vaults are in the Fall­out uni­verse, es­pe­cially when it doesn’t hint at more to ex­plore be­hind locked doors and bar­ri­caded hall­ways. I found my­self com­plet­ing one sec­tion, only to be fever­ishly start­ing an­other. I think that’s what may give it the labyrinth ef­fect. I tried to think of ev­ery­thing, tried to make it as big and ex­pan­sive as pos­si­ble. If I’m be­ing com­pletely hon­est, I thought about mak­ing cer­tain ar­eas like the res­i­den­tial sec­tion way big­ger than it ended up be­ing!”

While wan­der­ing through Vault 117 is an un­de­ni­ably un­nerv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, Pi­raino was care­ful not to rely on the kind of cheesy jump scares and clichéd plots that are so com­monly called upon when cre­ators are try­ing to give their au­di­ence the hee­bie-jee­bies. “I en­joy hor­ror when there’s a lit­tle more thought be­hind it,” says Pi­raino. “I en­joy dark, gritty plots, where the dis­turb­ing story is used as the hor­ror de­vice. I find it

“I en­joy hor­ror when there’s a lit­tle more thought be­hind it”

to be a lot more ef­fec­tive at mak­ing me feel un­com­fort­able and un­easy.”

Pi­raino has cre­ated mods for many games, – there are 132 re­leases cur­rently sit­ting in his mod vault. His other most no­table work is also for Fall­out 4, in­clud­ing ReGrowth Over­haul, which trans­forms the waste­land into a lush, green, veg­e­ta­tion-filled world, and Dust­bowl Over­haul, which de­liv­ers the desert vibe of Fall­out: New Ve­gas. A per­sonal favourite of Pi­raino’s is his Min­ute­man Watch­tow­ers mod, “I re­ally en­joy this one since it adds lo­ca­tions to ex­plore in the mid­dle of nowhere,” ex­plains Pi­raino. “While I found Fall­out 4’s world en­cap­su­lat­ing, I find it hard to be in­ter­ested in stray­ing from the roads to go ex­plore the wilder­ness, and I think Min­ute­man Watch­tow­ers helps rem­edy this.”

Fancy mak­ing a mod of your own? Hav­ing been in the mod­ding game for four years now, Pi­raino has some re­as­sur­ing ad­vice. “Just give it a shot,” he says. “If you have an idea, and you’re ded­i­cated to mak­ing it a re­al­ity, down­load the tool­kit and other re­quired pro­grams, and give it your all. The mod­ding com­mu­nity is prob­a­bly one of the best that I know, with many help­ful au­thors and users will­ing to help new­com­ers.”

Cre­at­ing mods is hard and time-con­sum­ing graft, but it’s also very re­ward­ing, as Pi­raino ex­plains: “I think the most en­joy­able part of cre­at­ing mods is see­ing it all come to­gether and work in-game, and when you re­lease it to the com­mu­nity for feed­back. It’s al­ways awe­some to see peo­ple en­joy­ing some­thing that you came up with.” He is cur­rently work­ing on new Fall­out projects, and if they can de­liver the same in­trigue and seam­less blend­ing with the Fall­out uni­verse as The Lost Vault, our time roam­ing Fall­out 4’s Waste­land is far from over.

Work on The Lost Vault be­gan in April 2016 and was com­pleted just over two years later.

The Lost Vault is a mod that’s def­i­nitely worth play­ing with the lights out and head­phones on.

Vault 117 got its name via a com­mu­nity poll; it bears the same num­ber as the cut vault from Fall­out 4 that was orig­i­nally lo­cated be­tween the Ja­maica Plain and An­drew Sta­tion.

Some of Pi­raino’s favourite things are world-end­ing sce­nar­ios, ’50s cul­ture, and sci-fi.

Pi­raino’s next mod, Icepick Over­haul – also for Fall­out 4, is look­ing rather… cool

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