It's also guaranteed the community will be around for the foreseeable future. "If you had asked me a couple of years ago whether I could imagine the community still being together and putting active work into the games, I wouldn't have been sure," says Avery. "But things are still going strong and show no signs of stopping. It looks like Volition has created a great set of games for us, as well as the tools and opportunities to make what we want of them, and it's really a pleasure to be working on that.
"Who knows where we'll be in five years' time?"
Internet Curmudgeons with Hearts of Radioactive Gold: No Mutants Allowed
In 1997, the videogame world trembled as a titan was birthed from a nuclear apocalypse, and lo, the legend was named Fallout. The brainchild of Leonard Boyarsky, Jason Anderson and Tim Cain of Interplay, Fallout's mix of incredibly dark humor and terrifying wasteland setting captured the heart of everyone who sat in front of a computer in the late '90s. Its sequel, Fallout 2, though it didn't quite bear the mark of the first's creators, enjoyed even more widespread appeal, but the franchise endured nearly a decade of bad cash-ins and worse attempts at humor until recently, now that the storied Bethesda has thrown in its hat to give a true third edition of the game a proper showing.
And through it all, No Mutants Allowed was there.
Started on Geocities nearly a decade ago by a Serbian named "Miroslav" (who only left the site due to the Bosnian War), NMA has built a reputation as the definitive, and most vocal (read: kinda mean), Fallout community on the web. And to hear Thomas "Brother None" Beekers, Sebastian "Silencer" Lenartowicz and Sander Philipse - NMA's administrators - tell it, they're not going away any time soon. "With the times, our goals have changed," Beekers says. "Originally, we were formed to be as supportive as we could be of Fallout, and this was great between Fallout 1 and 2, before Tactics' release dashed our hopes of a good spin-off and no new release was forthcoming (there were two Fallout 3 start-ups that were cancelled before Van Buren [Black Isle's Fallout 3 tech demo, hosted on NMA]).
"Now, we're mostly evangelists of recreating the original Fallout experience. We try to convince the media and publishers that there is a viable niche market for Fallout-like games that has been under-serviced for years."
Acting as a non-profit, grass-roots PR and marketing campaign for the better part of a decade speaks to a zeal not often observed outside of holy crusades and message board flame wars. What is it about Fallout that inspires people to continually sing its praises?
Philipse says, Fallout's world felt more, well, worldly than anything that's come before or since. "There are many games today that offer you sandbox-like gameplay, but very few of them also make you feel the consequences of the choices you are offered. If you muck something up, you'll have to play with it. Most games either stop your game, or offer you an odd explanation as to why things did work out anyway. Fallout offered you the choices, and had the game world react to those choices."
"Also," says Lenartowicz, "the character creation and development system was friggin' sweet."
In terms of the NMA community, all three admit that while it has grown every year, it does suffer some pitfalls of age: Primarily, the folks there have refined arguing down to a brutal science. "I dislike a bit that this sometimes means there's too much (sometimes enforced) consensus on anything concerning Fallout, and not always enough freedom for creative thought," Beekers says. "What I dislike a lot more is that our often abusive attitude always attracts a lot of ne'er-do-wells and ill-thinking pre-adolescents. ... I think those types also contribute disproportionally to [our] bad reputation."