Fallout 3 Interview


posted 10/23/2008 by John Yan
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My first viewing of any game footage was the presentation at last year's E3 which I must say was one of the big highlights of the show for me? How did you feel after you showed off the game a few times and heard and saw the reaction from the crowd? Did it feel like a weight was lifted knowing that so many fans have approved on your change from a top down view to a third person view as well as all the other game design changes?
Well, we won that E3 Best of Show award and yeah, it was pretty amazing. Because, you know, we had a hands on demo for the press. So we felt like there was no B.S. there, it wasn’t us giving some kind of smoke and mirrors staged demo, it was, “Here’s Fallout 3. Play it for a while and then let us know what you think.” So when we won that award, it was pretty clear that the press folks who played the game enjoyed it for what it was. And that was amazing for us.

The other really exciting time for us was at PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo. At E3, we let the press play the game. At PAX, we let the public play. And let me tell you, that was nerve wracking, trying to anticipate the reaction of average gamers. Would they like it? Would they get what we were trying to do? And you know what? It was amazing. Our booth was jammed with people. I mean, the game became this sort of spectator sport, with people cheering and yelling as someone played. It was crazy. I think that’s when we really knew we were on to something.

It's been so long since there was a Fallout game. What were some of the things you did to prepare you for creating a world in the style that Fallout is known for? Did you play a lot of the previous games again? Did you draw on other influences?
Yeah, personally, I replayed all the Fallout games again, just to sort of get my head back into the experience. I was actually amazed how well Fallout ran on my machine with no tweaking!

I also watched (or in a lot of cases re-watched) pretty much every post-apocalyptic movie I could get my hands on. The amazing thing about the post-apocalyptic film genre is that there are so many variations of the theme. It ranges from the serious to the over-the-top to the comedic to the downright depressing. I guess global nuclear war has that effect on people – it’s the most horrible thing imaginable, so it’s hard to look at it realistically… it’s just SO soul crushing. In Fallout 3 we emphasize the comedic and exciting aspects so you don’t have a nervous breakdown.

Will the PC version feature Mod support? Is there any chance we'll see mods make their way to the PS3 version (like how Epic is doing with Unreal Tournament 3)?
No news yet on if, or when, that might be possible. Our tools only are supported on PC. As far as user created content on a console, that’s really more on the side of the console manufacturers and what they’re comfortable with allowing people to release and play. I don’t see that happening for games like ours any time soon.

Why develop a PC version at all? Given piracy and all the other issues with PC gaming why did you decide to release a PC version?
Bethesda’s been around the block a few times now, and we got our start on the PC. So we’ve still got quite a few old school fans who played the early Elder Scrolls games (not to mention other stuff, like the Terminator titles) on the PC. So there’s no way we’re going to abandon those fans.

From a production standpoint, developing a PC game is fairly easy for us, since all of our tools are on the PC, and we can get the game up and running instantly on that platform. The real difficulty for us is in stuff like compatibility testing. Our games are huge, right? So it’s difficult for us to test all the different permutations within the game itself. What if I do this quest, and then chose this path of this quest? Etc. Now throw endless hardware configurations into that mix and the amount of testing we need to do becomes mind numbing. But in the end, it’s worth it for us, and for gamers, certainly.

Bethesda obviously learned a lot (both good and bad) about downloadable content with Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Can you talk about your DLC strategy a bit? Will it all be pay for content or are you looking at some free content as well?
The plan is to do for-pay downloadable content. We’re looking at pretty meaty stuff, similar in size to the Knights of the Nine DLC for Oblivion.

You know, when we first did the Oblivion DLC, what I think people forget is that we were one of the first developers to offer ANY kind of downloadable content on Xbox Live. So we were really testing the waters. Horse armor has become kind of infamous, but for us, back then, it was us testing the service out. We really didn’t know what gamers wanted, or what was even the right price point. So we’ve certainly learned some lessons there, and have been proceeding appropriately and they’re still hugely popular on Oblivion, even today.
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