Welcome to New Vegas… Enjoy Your Stay
Feargus Urquhart, President of Obsidian Entertainment
Hi everyone! I'm Feargus Urquhart, President of Obsidian Entertainment. I am excited to kick off this interesting series of developer diaries about us and our experiences working on Fallout: New Vegas.
In a lot of ways, it is really odd to be writing about working on Fallout again. Odd, but awesome.
As some of you might know, I had the privilege of working on the original Fallout 1 and as one of the Lead Designers on Fallout 2 when I was the head of Black Isle Studios. While I didn't get that chance to work on Fallout 3, us getting to make Fallout: New Vegas here at Obsidian right now is like coming home. Well, if your home was a burned out bomb shelter with radioactive goop and a Deathclaw staring down at you wondering what your liver is going to taste like.
Now when it comes to making Fallout games, I've always found it easy to work on them. I guess my twisted view of the post-apocalyptic world just fits with what Fallout became during the original development of Fallout 1. But, what wasn't easy was actually getting Fallout 1 finished, since we were still figuring out how to make big RPGs back in the mid 1990's. To help, I ended up polishing up one of the larger areas of the game, the Hub, and also finished up a couple of the later areas - the Boneyard and Adytum. I made some good decisions and some bad ones. My addition of a quest in the Hub to get a special gun turned out to be a fun quest that people liked, while my addition of the Turbo Plasma Rifle unbalanced the game. It was near the end of the game, but it's still one of those things where I look back and go "Feargus.....".
All of this really taught me a lot about designing areas and how we need to think about making games like Fallout. In fact, I took away ideas and methods we still use to this day. I do have to give an immense amount of credit to the design team on Fallout 1, in particular Scott Campbell, Jason Taylor, Chris Taylor, and Tim Cain. A lot of their original thoughts and ideas are what really made Fallout what it ended up being.
Now fast forwarding about ten or twelve years, here at Obsidian, it's not just me with all of that experience, but a bunch of other people who have worked on other Fallout projects. Chris Avellone, one of Obsidian's other owners, created the huge (and I mean HUGE) New Reno portion of Fallout 2, and he also became the unofficial minder of the Fallout Bible for a good number of years. The Project Director on Fallout: New Vegas, Josh Sawyer, came to Black Isle Studios to be the web guy on Planescape: Torment, but after seeing his work in posing for one of the original D&D modules (no joke), we had to bring him over as a designer on pretty much every one of our projects after that, and then almost every project at Obsidian. Brian Menze has drawn most of the beloved pictures of the Vault Boy - a few of which should maybe have never been actually put down on paper. And, Scott Everts created the level layouts for almost every level on the original Fallout 1 and a good portion of the maps in Fallout 2 using our level layout tool at the time - Mapper. While great for the time, I wouldn't wish Mapper on any of my worst enemies now.
In addition to Chris, Josh, Brian and Scott, we have a really great team working on Fallout: New Vegas, and what we really all realized from the very start of the project was that we had a tall order to live up to with what the internal team at Bethesda created with Fallout 3.
So, we are going to take Fallout back across the United States to the west and bring some new ideas into the mix. But, what's important is that whatever it is that we do create - it all remains distinctly Fallout.