Fallout 3 Interview


posted 10/23/2008 by John Yan
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Can you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project? How did you get into the game industry and what drew you to the field?
My name is Emil Pagliarulo, and I’m Fallout 3’s Lead Designer and Writer. It was basically my job to come up with the game’s main story, quests, and gameplay and guide the other designers as they implemented all of my insane ideas.

I first entered the industry as a writer and editor of the Adrenaline Vault website back in the day. My first design job was with Looking Glass Studios, working on Thief 2. I had actually reviewed Thief 1 for the Adrenaline Vault (and worshipped it), so that helped get my foot in the door at Looking Glass. It was a dream job back then, and it still is to this day.

Fallout is a property that a great deal of gamers hold in high regard. How nervous were you when you first heard/decided to take on the task of creating a third game in the series? Is there added pressure to create a game where the level of expectations is very high?
Not really, but part of that is because I don’t think I was fully cognizant of just how highly some gamers regarded the property. I mean, I had always loved Fallout; so did everyone else at Bethesda. That’s the very reason we wanted to obtain the license in the first place. But as a gamer I’ve played lots of titles, and there are other licenses I love as well. I’ve never been completely attached to just one game the way some fans are attached to Fallout, so it was interesting coming into that.

So that ignorance on my part was sort of to my benefit, because I was able to go into all of this without that pressure. I just wanted to make an awesome Fallout game, and a sequel that was true to the originals. I wasn’t concerned with meeting anyone’s expectations but my own.

The Fallout series has a fairly strong following, was it difficult to balance their expectations with the game that you wanted to create? What are some of the more "interesting" feedback you've received with your approach to the game?
Look, in the years since Fallout 2 was released, the game’s community has only grown stronger. You know, it never dissipated – it survived, and those fans became incredibly attached to the existing games. They knew what they liked, and what they wanted from a new Fallout. There are some people who love our vision of the game, and others who clearly aren’t as enthused at our approach to the license. And that’s what’s great about the internet – that “interesting” feedback is just a click away! It doesn’t take long to find some of the more colorful comments.

Was there a mindset change from working on Oblivion to Fallout 3? What's been the core design idea behind Fallout 3? Were there major things that changed from the original design of the game that were unexpected?
There was certainly a mindset change, as far as design is concerned. We knew we wanted to use our existing technology, but also give players a much different role-playing experience than that offered by Oblivion. Oblivion is about being all things to all people – after 200 hundred hours, you look back and find that you’ve created a sort of super character. You’re the head of the Fighter’s Guild, and the head of the Dark Brotherhood, and you’ve closed all the Oblivion gates… In Fallout 3, we knew we wanted the player to have an experience that was at the same time more intimate, and more meaningful. Call it old school RPG if you’d like, but in Fallout 3, you create a more specific type of character, and part of that is making some hard choices, and having to stand by them.

How big is the development team for Fallout 3 compared to Oblivion? What did you learn from working on Oblivion that you applied to the development of Fallout 3?
The team is a bit bigger, but not by that much. We’re always improving our internal processes, and always learning (at least, trying to learn!), so applying lessons learned is all part of the experience. Structurally, Fallout 3 has really benefitted from the work of our dedicated level design team. It’s the first time we’ve had really specialized level designers – you know, those guys who really straddle the line between art and design – and the gameplay spaces in Fallout 3 are markedly better because of the great work they did.

How will the missions work out in Fallout 3? Any chance you could describe some of the new mission types we'll be seeing in the game?
For us it’s never been about trying to squeeze in a certain number of quest types, or filling a quota. For Fallout 3, we really just wanted to tell some interesting stories, and give the player a chance to make real choices and determine the outcomes of those quests. So there are fewer quests than there were in Oblivion, but they’re much richer, much deeper. Most have multiple paths and solutions. And, because it’s Fallout, even the simplest task might seem like a clear-cut fetch quest on the surface, and then reveal itself to be something much deeper. So we had a lot of fun with that.
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