- Tell us a little about yourself, what have you accomplished in life?
My full name is Charles Edward Orman, but everyone calls me Ed - or else. I was born in '72, which makes me 32 right now. I've been in the games industry since '97, and I've been a Lead Designer on two projects so far. I've been married to my beautiful wife Sonja since '96. We have two cats.
I once claimed that I was capable of defying gravity. This is, of course, a lie.
- What are your favourite computer games/board games and why?
I play a lot of games, not as many board games as I should. I have old favorites, like Donkey Kong, and I have my recent favorite, which is the game I'm currently working on.
Donkey Kong has a good bit of nostalgia going for it because it was one of the first arcade games I ever played, but it's also an excellent example of simple game design at work.
My favorite “board game” is Car Wars.
- What hobbies do you have besides computer games?
Not enough, sadly. I collect comics, I draw when I can. I failed to learn the guitar again this year.
- What are your favourite bands/artists (music) ?
I really have to wonder why you’d care :P Well, I’m currently listening to DJ Yoda, Autechre, Cornelius, stuff like that.
- Tell us a little about your role in the making of Fallout 1/2/3 (Van Buren)/ Tactics ?
I worked on Fallout: Tactics, as the Lead Designer. I worked with a team of people on a demo based on an old engine, which was good enough to convince Interplay that they should give us the Fallout: Tactics project (then we threw the engine out and built a new one).
- What's your favourite Fallout memory?
!!!Spoiler Warning!!! Seeing the vault dweller walk off into the desert after being expelled from the vault.
Best. Ending. Ever. !!!End Spoiler!!!
- What specifically inspired Fallout for you? What were the biggest influences?
I'm a big fan of the post-apocalyptic setting. When I used to play P&P RPGs, they were predominantly post-apoc: Gamma World being the longest running one (thanks to my old friend and GM, Adam Reeve, for indulging my obsession with mutant animals), but also a bit of Aftermath. I love the idea of people using the remains of a ruined world as a second chance, but then making all the same mistakes.
- Pop Culture played a big role in Fallout, what pop culture influences you?
Comics, Films, Games, the Internet ... anywhere you can find adolescent male power fantasy, I'm there.
- How was it to be a part of the Fallout team?
The team of people who worked on Tactics was an excellent group. We were very inexperienced, but also enthusiastic and dedicated. I'm still proud of what we produced. It's a shame that we're all scattered to the four winds now, because we learned a lot.
- Were there things that you wished you had added to either Fallouts?
With Tactics, I wish we’d done less with more. We didn’t leave anything out that I can remember; we crammed it all in there.
I guess I wish the Energizer Bunny had survived.
- What were you favourite places in fallout and why?
The caves filled with endless hordes of rats outside the vault! No, seriously ... my most favorite place is Vault 13 itself. It's so damn optimistic and so doomed to failure.
- What is your hope for future Fallout games? Would you like to be a part of a future Fo team?
I hope they make a third RPG game, whether it's turn-based or not, isometric or not; I would like to see that world alive again. I still believe it's also possible for the Fallout world to extend into different genres, which it might have to do to survive. I haven't played Brotherhood of Steel (the console one), so I don't know how successful they were there.
- Who would you bring with you in a future Fallout team and why?
I worked with a talented team on Tactics, but I've also worked with many other talented people since then. I'd be happy to work with any of them again.
With that said, if it was an RPG, I'd want to bring in people with experience in that style of game development.
- In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that every RPG should have?
Fishing. And baking. I don't know. It depends. There are different styles of RPGs. The key ingredient of Fallout 1 (for me) was the ability to have your choices in character creation and actions in the game affect the end outcome. A good RPG can present the player with a believable world, but it then has to allow the player to have an impact on that world.
- Where do you see computer RPGs going?
Diversification. Like I said above, there's different styles of RPGs. Some people like number crunching, other people like collecting shiny objects. Given the industry's move towards bite-sized experiences, I'd say that the Fallout or Planescape style of RPG would become even more niche than it is now.
- How does the fan base hinder/help the projects that you've worked on?
The positive is that they generate enthusiasm for a project, which can be enough to convince a publisher that the money they're going to spend will be recouped - I doubt Tactics would have been made if the community hadn't been so well established. And a smart group of fans can also be helpful in testing a game, looking for exploits that may have cropped up again. They're also great for disseminating information to the rest of the community.
The negative is that they can be a major distraction. Generally speaking, you're not only making a game for the fans, you're making it for a new audience as well. A small group of highly motivated fans can generate a lot of noise about what they consider important, which is fine except they're not responsible for delivering the project on target, on time.
- When planning the story how do you go through the process of integrating themes and story with the constraints on software?
The core of the Tactics story line was the Brotherhood of Steel. What I loved about them was that they were a group that could go either way - this tiny army that has clawed their technological base back out of the ruins piece by piece. At first they do this just to survive, but then they realize that all the tech in the world isn't going to help them if they don't have the numbers. So do they recruit or conquer to fill their ranks?
The missions in Tactics are essentially based on the Brotherhood encountering other factions, and seeing how they react to each one - are they saviors or slavers? It's a solid theme; I just wish we'd executed it better.
(!!!Spoiler Warning!!! Incidentally, the story of Tactics went through a lot of revisions. For example, my original concept for the main villain, the Calculator, was for it to be a completely unfeeling automated system, not even a computer so much as an engine designed to tick over and perform certain tasks after doomsday. Totally implacable, and therefore the fault of everything bad that happens is still in the hands of the humans. !!!End Spolier!!!)
- If you could make any computer game that you wanted, which would it be and why?
I'd like to work on an action/adventure title that focussed on simple combinations of game mechanics, with only a few characters and a simple story. I like the idea of coming up with a very small set of rules that can combine to produce many different results.
But then, I'd also like to work on a rollicking RPG ... but I want 4 years to do it.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I'll still be in games. I'll have diversified my own development experiences beyond tactical squad based games and first person shooters. I'll still be learning.
- Any last word to the Fallout fan base?
Enjoy your memories, but also accept that nothing stays the same forever.
Oh, and there is no jet-bike. We were just kidding.
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