Gamebanshee interviewed Feargus Urquhart and Chris Avellone at E3. Here are the highlights:
GB: So yesterday I checked out Fallout: New Vegas. That was the first time I’ve had some hands-on time with it, so it was a great way to kick off the show.
Feargus: Yeah, it’s looking good. I’m hopeful. We get all weird because we worry whether it is what it needs to be. Is it good? Is it this, is it that? I think what’s really lucky with that is that we’re pretty much just fixing things right now. Which means that the whole team is fixing and making the game better right now instead of still trying to get stuff in. Which should give us a good amount of time to really make it cool.
GB: So at this point you’re content complete?
Feargus: Yeah, exactly. Well, the VO isn't in yet because it’s still getting recorded. There’s a ridiculous number - 63,000 lines of it, which I think is the current count.
GB: So how did the collaboration with you and Bethesda come about? Did you approach them, or did they approach you?
Feargus: We’ve been talking to them for probably about five years or so. I’ve known Todd Vaughn, who is the V.P. for development at Bethesda because he used to be the editor in chief for one of the gaming magazines back in the late ‘90s. And he called me probably in about 2004 about doing games for them, and nothing synced up from what they were looking for and when we had free teams. But good comes out of bad sometimes, which is what happened with Fallout New Vegas, and we had a team available since another product we were working on was cancelled.
So we had a team, and they were looking to do something with Fallout and so it all worked out.
GB: Did you ever try to convince them that you should do an isometric turn-based Fallout after Fallout 3?
GB: Was there ever a point where you said, "Can we mix it up a little bit?" Or did they request that you keep things in first-person perspective and similar in vein to their Fallout 3?
Feargus: Right. I think in this case, it was about doing a Fallout game within their Fallout universe. And their Fallout universe is first-person or third-person if you’re playing that way. And so there was never really any kind of talk about doing something different.
I’m always a big believer that you can create great sequels within a technology base or world base with a role-playing game. Because just like going from Baldur’s Gate to Baldur’s Gate II. It's a lot of the same assets, technology and design involved. What really matters is the story and the quests. And so it just seemed to make sense to do Fallout: New Vegas based on Fallout 3.
Feargus also talks about other games that Obsidian has worked/is working/possibly will work on, including a "great pitch" for Baldur's Gate III should Atari ever get their heads out of their asses and let them make it. Go here to read the whole 4-page interview with Fearugs.
Now for Chris Avellone:
GB: What would you say your primary goals were when approaching Fallout: New Vegas after the success of Fallout 3? What did you come in wanting to build upon and change, primarily?
Chris: To be fair, I came on Fallout about halfway through the project, so the goals were established by Josh Sawyer and our art director Joe Sanabria. But there were some key ingredients that made everything recognizable. One of the parameters for our project was that the game had to take place in the Western part of the United States. We were trying to figure out what city represented the Western half of the United States best, and so: Las Vegas.
It seemed a good fit. The design staff got excited about things to do in Vegas, the art staff got excited about the color and lighting schemes you could play around with in Vegas with signage, casino themes, and more. There were elements we wanted to tweak from Fallout 3 (some weapon skills, skill breakdowns, some system changes, more weapons, more things you can do to weapons) but we wanted to leave the Fallout 3 aspects people loved, including the open world exploration, which we felt was key to any Fallout title. We thought that we could add some of Obsidian's strengths on top of the title (expanded companion range, new ways of interacting with them, personal quests), and bring the things we enjoyed about Fallout 1, 2, and 3 to New Vegas.
GB: I saw in the demo that the game has a lot of new weapons. Named weapons were quite popular in Fallout 3 - are you implementing those in New Vegas, too?
Chris: Yes. At the least they'll have a new texture, and some have unique models.
GB: So what kind of modifications will we be able to add to a weapon?
Chris: Scopes, expanded magazines, mods for greater rate of fire, and more.
GB: Can we customize the unique named weapons to make them even more powerful?
Chris: No, they are great all by themselves.
GB: Will we be able to add modifications to any other items?
GB: Where does New Vegas fall in the Fallout timeline?
Chris: It takes place 40 years after Fallout 2 and four years after Fallout 3.
GB: What made you choose that particular timeframe?
Chris: I believe we initially proposed New Vegas to take place before Fallout 3, and it was decided that we should be after Fallout 3.
GB: Will we see any cameo appearances from Fallout 1 or 2, or will we come across descendants of characters we’ve met in previous Fallouts? Anyone at all that we’ll recognize, anyway?
Chris: If you haven’t played Fallout 1 and 2 and you play New Vegas, you’ll enjoy it and won't miss anything. If you have played Fallout 1 and 2, there are things that you will hear and see that you'll recognize from previous games and draw a connection to.
GB: We’ll obviously be picking our character’s skill tags, and I’ve read that they will have more of an effect on the game than just a skill boost. Can you elaborate on that?
Chris: As with the GOAT test in F3, you'll get a Q&A with Doc Mitchell in Goodsprings at the beginning of the game, and your answers will "suggest" tag skills to take. Like the GOAT test, you don't need to take the suggested skills, you can still choose whatever you want. And you can also re-choose your Tag Skills once you leave Goodsprings if you don't like your choices.
However, we made a conscious effort that (1) every weapon skill had a low level version so you didn't have to wait a long time to get energy weapons, which was a mistake we'd made in previous Fallouts, (2) you can do a lot more with skills you wouldn't expect, notably in conversations. In my opinion, some of the best conversation options you get in the game are Barter ones, when you start using economic arguments to solve quests or convince people of the wisdom of your choices. You should see an almost immediate use for all your skills in Goodsprings and onwards, it was a design mandate.
GB: Have you seen Interplay’s Fallout Online? What’s your take on that?
Chris: I haven't seen much of it. I know some designers from Fallout 1 are working on it (Chris Taylor, Mark O' Green), and I like those guys, so I have high hopes.
Check out the rest of the interview with MCA here.