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The Escapist interviews Feargus Urquhart
The Escapist interviews Feargus Urquhart [ Person -> Interview ]
Posted by King of Creation Sat 01 May 2010, 5:42 AM
More info on Person: Feargus Urquart | More info on Company: Obsidian Entertainment | More info on Game: Fallout: New Vegas

In addition to their preview of Fallout: New Vegas, The Escapist has posted an interview with Obsidian CEO and former Black Isle head Feargus Urquhart. Here are the highlights:

When it comes to Fallout, and what's easy for the internal team, they have all of our design documents, they have all of our materials, they have the games, they had Chris's Fallout bible, they had all this stuff. Would it have been helpful to ask five or six questions, but that would have probably been it. With us, in working on New Vegas, we just already know it, for a lot of us it was something that we created. We still go back, because it is Bethesda's Fallout, it's not Black Isle's Fallout.

We all played Fallout 3 to death. One, because we wanted to, two, because we needed to really understand it. So we really wanted to understand what they were trying to accomplish and what their vision was. And then we followed up with questions. We haven't asked a ton, but things get run by Todd Howard all the time. The amount of conflict that has existed - like "Why can't we do this?" "Well you just can't," - it's been like four things. A lot of it has to do with that they have ideas for the future and so they just don't want us to go playing with where they see their future.


TE: Can you give any examples of the four or so things you weren't able to do?

FU: In some cases, it's pretty minor stuff. For one of them, we were thinking of a certain city and they said "We want to reserve that for something we want to do." It didn't really hurt what we were doing at all.

We [also] talked a lot about when it should occur in the timeline. Originally, we thought that it didn't take place after Fallout 3 and that it took place between Fallout 2 and Fallout 3. When Bethesda thinks about their worlds, they always want to be pressing forward. So every game just moves the timeline forward. That's one of the things they said "No," and that's why it takes place years after Fallout 3.

TE: What kind of impact has that had on the design - the evolution of the chronology - is that something [the player is] going to be able to feel? Fallout 3 was a certain number of years after Fallout 2 ...

FU: I want to say 70 [years]. It's long enough that people that were in Fallout 2, if they were old, they're dead now. If they were young, they're old now. It's not 100 years, and it's not 20, it's somewhere in the middle.

TE: So if you run into a recurring character, it's an exceptional case.

FU: Yes.


"I remember when I was working on The Hub, which was a big area in Fallout 1 - you always went back to the Hub to gear up and there were some continuing quests. We had this problem where we wanted there to be really high powered gear in there. In all the Fallouts, you can just steal stuff, but we didn't want that to happen early on, so we had to play this game of putting enough guards around that could see if you were stealing stuff, and then if you actually did it, they would converge. Technically, it was a problem because we needed a lot of them. We didn't want to make just a few super-powered guys because we wanted, at some point, that a player could start taking them out. If you just put three super high level guys there, the player wouldn't be able to do that, they wouldn't be able to play this game of "ooh, can I get the guards?"


TE: Obviously there was a plan for Fallout 3 back in the day (Black Isle Studios had been working on a third Fallout game, referred to as "Van Buren" before the studio was shuttered. That version of Fallout 3 never saw the light of day. - Ed.)

There was a couple.

TE: There's the one everyone likes to talk about, the one everyone thinks they know. How much of what you had planned for Fallout 3 were you able to bring back for New Vegas?

FU: I would say not really [any]. A lot of it is that it's not the Black Isle team, it's people from the Black Isle team working on it. It's a different set, it's a different group of designers.

I've learned a lot, Josh [Sawyer, Lead Designer] has learned a lot about making games since then. I think that it still is that thing of what we took from what we did in the past and compared it to what Bethesda did with Fallout 3. It's OK, how do we give it its own life? How do we make it this unique experience [in] the West?

Back then, we were trying to steer away from something like Vegas. We just had Reno in Fallout 2. It's something that would have been a difference if the other game had come to fruition.

TE: Are you ready for the inevitable mixed reaction from people expecting something they aren't going to be getting?

FU: Yeah. There's going to be a couple of fan sites that will vilify us, but that's the way it is.

But Josh has done an amazing job - he's broadly looked at everything. There's going to be a lot of fun things for people to do that are distinctly different than Fallout 3. There's always going to be "there's too much this," and "there's too little this," but in general, people are just going to have fun.

You can read the whole interview here. It's a pretty good interview, but there are loads of walls-of-text that I couldn't be bothered posting here. Go and read it yourself.

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