This Q&A is also available in French and Russian.
This Q&A was conducted with Bethesda's PR head Pete Hines at the Game Conference in Leipzig, in two parts by SuAside and Brother None
NMA: How do you explain the omnipresence of nuclear explosions -both from nuclear powered cars, from the Fatman and from Megaton- in the game, while in the original games nuclear power (especially explosions) was treated with much consideration and respect, thereby making it a rare occurrence whenever it was used. The same goes for radiation itself. In the originals, it was extremely lethal if you didn't take the right precautions, but in the demonstration we see plenty of times where radiation is more seen like a trivial matter. Standing next to an exploded nuclear car barely gives off any radiation.
Pete Hines interviewed by Brother None
NMA: What is the explanation for the posh english speaking Mr Handy calling you names behind your back? It seems to me that -like the Mr Handy example- a lot of the humour shown in the demonstration leans to slapstick humour rather than the dark humour of the old Fallouts.
Pete Hines: Well, you simply don't know why the robot acts as he does. It could be many things. It is possible that someone might have reprogrammed him this way. And the fact that a lot of the humour might seem different from the original is mostly because the demonstration is a heavily fastforwarded playthrough. In such an environment it might seem that the bulk of the humour used leans to slapstick, but in fact that isn't true.
NMA: We've seen in the demonstration that Speech influences your dialogue options, but what other statistics will influence it as well?
Pete Hines: Well, you'll see that Science for instance can allow you to give a scientific explanation and to use that knowledge in dialogue. This will be very technical and not reliant on your Speech skill. The same is true for Repair and so on. So you'll be able to use those as well.
NMA: When engaged in real time combat, are the attacks affected by your character's skills?
Pete Hines: Yes, all combat is governed by die rolls. So if you fire in real time and aim perfectly, you might still fail a roll and miss your target.
NMA: Will AC/dodge/etc affect your chance to hit? In the originals, chance to hit was often misunderstood because it was lowered for a powerarmored enemy, while the target was big and bulky as ever. It basically meant that you had less chance to hit WITH damage.
Pete Hines: Armor will not give you more chance to dodge or more chance for the shot to miss entirely. It simply comes into account in damage reduction. As you saw in the demonstration, armored mutants were as easily hit as non-armored mutants, but the damage done was not the same.
NMA: In 2004, Tim Cain stated in a PC Zone interview that Fallout's combat was meant to show "how popular and fun turn-based combat could be, when everyone else was going with real-time or pause-based combat.", so why did Bethesda go against that? Wouldn't it also have been a lot easier to not naming the game Fallout 3 and simply naming it "Fallout: Something", thereby starting your own series with your own views without leaving yourself open to much fan criticism?
Pete Hines: We're making the sequel as we think it would be best in the modern age and how it would work best today. This means taking full advantage of all modern technology and first person to facilitate immersion. There is no reason today not to do so. We also didn't want to make our 'own' series because we want to make a true sequel to the first two Fallouts.
NMA: Apparently not everyone is pleased with Bethesda's interpretation of Fallout. NMA, RPGcodex and DaC are a few of the oldest Fallout communities around and none of them seem to accept Bethesda's view on things, or are at least very skeptical about the game. Why is it that the communication with those communities is difficult at best?
Pete Hines: We are in contact with those communities and they receive the same treatment as all the other communities. We frequently read them and we understand exactly what it is they want. The problem is however that they've had years to think about what they wanted and create a view of what Fallout 3 should be that could never be possible today. They're still stuck 8 years back in their views of Fallout 3. It simply wouldn't work.
NMA: There was no mêlée combat from the PC in the demo.
Pete Hines: There was no PC mêlée combat in the demo because it wasn't implemented in this build yet. There will be mêlée in the final game.
NMA: What kind of mêlée can we expect, something like Oblivion?
Pete Hines interviewed by Brother None
NMA: Is there more to supermutants than meets the eyes or are they just the evil enemy?
Pete Hines: There's definitely a backstory. Actually, people have been discussing this a lot, "what are supermutants doing on the East Coast," while the reason is a pretty good and simple one. We're kind of surprised nobody has figured it out yet.
NMA: Will you be able to finish the game without killing anyone?
Pete Hines: We don't know yet. We're trying to make it so that you have options to use stealth or dialogue. The lead designer of Fallout 3 is Emil Pagiarulo, who worked on the Dark Brotherhood questline in Oblivion and on the Thief games. He has a lot of experience with using stealth to solve problems. But obviously, when you're talking about supermutants, dialogue really isn't a viable option. So I can't really say whether or not you can finish the game without killing anyone, but implementing alternative paths is very important for us.
NMA: Is the game fully voiced? If so, won't that limit the amount of dialogue?
Pete Hines: Yes, the game is fully voiced. But it won't really limit the amount of dialogue, because unlike Oblivion, we only have a couple of hundred of NPCs here, and you can really put in as much dialogue as you want when you have so few NPCs without hitting any limits.
NMA: I noticed APs were regenerating a bit quick in the demo, that's because...
Pete Hines: That's just for purposes of the demo. The same as with the high HPs and to-hit percentages of the PC, we just cheated a bit to make the demo run along more smoothly.