Clutter is one of those underappreciated things in video games. Spaces that balance great interior design with a lived-in feel to be truly homey are easy to find in all manner of games. Recently, the Fallout series’ gently scuffed wasteland chic has been my go-to. And the Fallout 76 building mechanics have allowed players to create incredibly complex camps — from spaceships to cultist hideouts. But nothing soothes my pandemic brain quite like a tour of an ordinary house.
Of course, “ordinary” is relative. David, who runs the YouTube channel norespawns, typically builds houses that fit right into the post-apocalyptic wasteland. They’re the sorts of places you just might find a Deathclaw skin rug or two lying around.
“Building has always been my interest in games like this — personalizing things and the general creativity,” he said. But, as people say, limitations can actually drive creativity. That’s why David prefers to keep his houses grounded in the wasteland aesthetic. “I just personally prefer the realism,” he added. “I like the idea of making something that you would see in game — rather than something that, at least for me, would break my immersion.”
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Another YouTuber, Darth Xion, also appreciates the “creative problems” Fallout 76 provides. Like its single-player predecessor, Fallout 4, the game’s building throws up interesting challenges. “[It can] stem from the location chosen, other times from the limitations of the building mechanics, often both,” he explained. “Even more than in Fallout 4, there is always somewhere new to build and something different to create, though of course we all have our favorite spots, too.”
My personal favorite showcases, though, come from AquaNova. Her modern house builds don’t directly fit into the wasteland lore at all. Yet they still feel somehow appropriate, grounded in the series’ own retrofuturism.
“Many YouTubers have already shown camp builds with wastelander style or lore friendly builds,” she said. “Those are great but I wanted to bring a new post-modern and clean style of camp building so Fallout 76 players can enjoy more diverse ways of building their own camps.”
Though she says some have left hateful comments over her style, she likens it to The Institute faction from Fallout 4. “In a further future…the Institute has so many clean, beautiful, and futuristic furnitures and architectural elements.” She’d love to see an Institute inspired asset pack added to the game (“a new story DLC quest of the Institute inventing a time machine to send their synth agents and researchers back in time to study scorched plague in West Virginia!”), but uses the currently existing designs to such great effect that it’s hard to tell they weren’t entirely planned by developer Bethesda.
Aqua also breaks from the crowd by showcasing her and her friends’ builds without commentary. She only provides a music track to accompany each tour.
“I decided to not add voice commentary on my camp videos because I do not want my voice to disrupt the flow and quality of my videos,” Aqua elaborated. “When I go to an art gallery or museum, I want to focus and admire art pieces in an un-disturbing atmosphere.” But she also explains that a good music track can set the mood, giving viewers something to help them focus.
It works. In some videos it feels like a radio plays as you explore a friend’s well-decorated home. Others have an almost dreamlike quality, as Aqua’s jester-masked avatar leads you around rooms that somehow feel, welcoming, even if there’s a flashing sculpture of a gorilla fighting a doll, an antler chandelier, and an alien riding a rocket. I wouldn’t sleep in there… I would get coffee with whoever does, though, you know? They’ve got personality.
Aqua also makes tutorial-style videos, which she’s careful to subtitle. “I have some friends who have hearing disabilities and they have always complained that most other camp build YouTubers only add unscripted voice-overs, so it is hard for them to follow or learn step by step,” she explained. “I want everyone to have a place to learn modern house camp tutorials in any situation.”
She says these kinds of videos take much longer, but that they’re worth it. David and Xion also describe a long process from inspiration to completed video. “[Ideas] come from all places,”said David. “Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to make as a concept (a café, bunker, prison etc.) [but] often I see something randomly that gives me an idea.”
“Often I will find a location that has some interesting or unique feature to use as a centerpiece or starting point for a build and work from there. On other occasions I’ll use new items added to the game as a starting point for a build and expand upon those and sometimes I see C.A.M.P. builds by other players that inspire me to try my own build in that location,” Xion added. It’s a slow process that he says usually takes 10 hours to include with building, furnishing, recording, editing, and voice-over.
Xion and Aqua are also both fans of showcasing builds made by other players. “It’s always wonderful to see what other people are creating and to share that with the community around my channel,” Xion concluded. “[Some] builds cause me to stop in my tracks and think ‘Wow! The Fallout community is great at doing that!’ But it’s not only the flashiest that deserve highlighting. “[Sometimes] it’s something smaller that’s been done in a particularly unique or creative way that might catch my eye. I try not to have any specific expectations as the range of creative ideas out there is wonderful and builds often catch my eye in unexpected ways.”
It’s the variety that keeps me coming back to these traditional wasteland houses, too. They might not be devious math traps, but there’s something in the creative expressiveness of a home, whether it be a realistic log cabin, a London-style townhouse, or a postmodern home clinging to the edge of a cliff. Especially when it stands against such a hostile virtual world.