- Tell us a little about yourself, what have you accomplished in life?
Since I'm approaching my first mid-life crisis, this is a helluva question. I've been involved in over 30 different games, from testing to design to production. I'm most comfortable in shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. I've been married 8 years now, and have two boys that I'm teaching to swim, play games and hopefully how to be good people. I've read over 10,000 books and want to read another 10,000 before I'm done.
- What are your favourite computer games/board games and why?
My favourite computer games are CRPGs, from Wizardry to Bard's Tale, I grew up on the classic 8-bit CRPGs. Recently, I've been playing EQ, WOW and other massively-multiplayer CRPGs. They are not a perfect replacement for table-top RPGing, but they are all I have time for now, and they certainly provide hours of entertainment. I play mostly boardgames with friends these days, with a touch of MTG and other card games. My current favourite boardgames are Settlers, Pirate's Cove, Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico and Runebound. I like games that have lots of player interactions, that move along quickly and have short spans between player turns. I would love to be able to play more Star Fleet Battles and Advanced Squad Leader, but I don't have the time to conquer complex boardgames anymore.
- What hobbies do you have besides computer games?
Reading books, writing, collecting odd DVDs (currently I'm into Bollywood musicals, HK action films and BBC mysteries) and playing non-computer games of all kinds.
- What are your favourite bands/artists (music) ?
I'm very old school. My parents raised me on 60s and 70s rock and roll, so I like Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd and so on. I also listen to KROQ (the world famous KROQ!), so I'll hum along with Linkin Park, Outkast, Bad Religion, System of a Down and whatever else is getting a lot of airtime.
- Tell us a little about your role in the making of Fallout 1/2/3 (Van Buren)/Tactics ?
I was the second Lead Designer on Fallout 1, wrote the FO1/2 manuals, and even did the (bad) html for the Fallout 1 website.
I was the senior designer on FOT, which basically meant that I checked stuff over for the developer, spent some time concepting stuff, but the primary design (which was very solid, the game just needed more time for tweaking and testing) was handled by Micro Forté. I was also the person responsible for ensuring that it was accurate to the Fallout universe, which I accept all responsibility for.
- What’s your favourite Fallout memory?
This changes for me over time. Currently, it would have to be reading the completed quote file for the first time. The Fallout developers were, erm, gifted when it came to out of context quotes. And reading all of them in a row was very good for a laugh. Seeing the bazooka shoot Dogmeat across the screen is also a good memory.
- What specifically inspired Fallout for you? What were the biggest influences?
Paper and pencil role-playing games were the single biggest influence. We had a goal of trying to recreate the tabletop gaming experience as best as possible. For the most part, I think we succeeded.
- Pop Culture played a big role in Fallout, what pop culture influences you?
TV was the worst influence in my laugh at the time. I could spend hours channel surfing in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I have TiVo now and I watch a lot less TV now. Cartoons and comedies were big influences, shows like the Simpsons, MST3k and South Park (we watched the bootleg original South Park over and over and over at Interplay when it came out. Good stuff.)
- How was it to be a part of the Fallout team?
It was not unwell, thank you. Once Interplay got the AD&D license, we were pretty much ignored by upper management and had a reputation as a B game. That meant that we could work with minimal interference. It was a special time and a special group. The Fallout 1 development team was the most focused dev team I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Nearly everyone on the team was working on the same game at the same time, which is pretty unusual.
- Were there things that you wished you had added to either Fallouts?
Yeah, lots. Fallout 1 should have been about 50% larger, with a better endgame. I mostly wish about the things we could have changed and tweaked in the SPECIAL system. We didn't spend a lot of time on the system once we changed over from GURPS. Tim, Jess and myself cranked through the system pretty quickly (I remember one very intense week of scribbling on the whiteboard in Tim's office) and then we spent most of our time finishing up areas and getting the game done. I wish we had refined and cleaned up the system to remove things like non-useful skills, fixed the time puzzles/invasion events and fixed the combat system so it wasn't so Fragile Ninja-ish. I also wish we had done the game as a set of editors, NWN-style, but that would have been a much different project.
- What were you favourite places in fallout and why?
Shady Sands and Necropolis are my two favourite Fallout locations. Shady Sands is to me the example of hope and rebirth in Fallout 1. I like Necropolis because of the Ghouls and the events there.
- What is your hope for future Fallout games? Would you like to be a part of a future Fo team?
I have a lot of hope for Fallout. It's a beloved franchise with lots of fanatical fans and a ton of potential. It has a world-wide appeal (who doesn't love exploring a devastated land and making your own decisions about how the story will turn out?) I would be honoured to be a part of a future Fallout game, but I'd have to know more about the project, and what was happening in my life before joining up.
- Who would you bring with you in a future Fallout team and why?
As many of the original team members as possible. It was a great team. I don't know much about the people working on the now legendary cancelled FO3, but it sounded like they were doing some great work too. I'd love to talk to them about their experiences and thoughts for Fallout. I like where Josh was going with the system, for example.
- In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that every RPG should have?
To me, key ingredients of an RPG include: Consequence of action, characteristics and decisions that matter and character creation and development that affect the game. It's a role-playing game. I should be able to pick a role and play it. And it should mean something.
- Where do you see computer RPGs going?
I see more and more real-time RPGs, unfortunately. I see mixed RPG/genre games, like more action RPGs. There are very few real RPG developers left. I doubt we will ever see the RPG genre as dominate as it once was and that is a shame. The games that are left I see being more and more licensed-based. But, like a phoenix, I see more RPGs coming from indy developers -- and that's a good thing in my opinion. I also see more and more RPG components being used in other games, like character development or dialogue tree choices.
- How does the fan base hinder/help the projects that you’ve worked on?
I've had the pleasure of working on many games that came with fan-bases: Star Trek and SFB, Lord of the Rings, GURPS and the later Fallout games. There is some hindering, for various reasons, but more helping. At its core, it's nice working on a well-known property because you don't have to explain things like "what's a Vulcan?!" I enjoy interacting with the fans. I think computer and video game makers have a pretty unique opportunity to get feedback from our customers. We should take advantage of that whenever we can. That is all balanced with our need to focus on The Game and create using our experience and skills as game makers.
- When planning the story how do you go through the process of integrating themes and story with the constraints on software?
For me, it's a very natural process. I write story, characters, dialogue in a very organic process. I start with a pre-determined starting position based on the game, and then write. Where the characters end up, how it gets resolved -- well, that's part of the fun of writing.
- If you could make any computer game that you wanted, which would it be and why?
I have this desire to do a sci-fi BF1942 game, letting people jump around from naval, ground, air and space. It would be on a different scale than an FPS and minimally multiplayer, instead of a MMP. For some reason, it seems really neat to me (I've always been a fan of military sci-fi books) and it would be a challenge to design. And it would have submarines. No game can be bad if it has a submarine!
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Sitting at a computer, playing a game or reading a book. I'm a man of simple pleasures.
- Any last word to the Fallout fan base?
Keep doing what you're doing, fans definitely have an impact. And tell St. Proverbius to look me up, I think I owe him $20.
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