Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog offers a summary of Emil Pagliarulo's continued Q&A session with Fallout fans on the official Bethesda forum. A few of the most interesting of these:I think I would have preferred to see you address the point I raised in my original post about producing something unique rather than what the rest of the industry is creating.Emil, I think you missed the point of the question there, buddy. I'm pretty sure he's asking why you're changing Fallout 3 into the popular commercial model, not why you're using an existing IP. Gender-blending does not originality make.
Emil: You’ll really have to play the game to judge its uniqueness. Sure, we’re using an existing IP, but as someone who plays just about everything, I’d consider Fallout 3 pretty damned unique (if nothing else!). It’s a first/third-person RPG, but it’s got a different vibe than Oblivion, by a long shot, and a lot of other gameplay elements/sensibilities I don’t really think I’ve seen in other games. Okay, I’m biased. But I still feel that’s very true.
Wouldn’t you, as an artist, rather create something completely different to what the rest of the industry is creating?
Now you can come back and claim that this really is something that you’re doing with Fallout 3, but if you did, I think you’d be lying to yourself as well as us.
Emil: Well, I very much feel that Fallout 3 is different from what the rest of the industry is doing, whether we’re using an existing IP or not. That was one of the prime reasons I wanted to work on the project. Is a game “just a shooter” because it has guns in first person? Or is a game “definitely an RPG” because it has character dialogue and choice? Those are just two examples– I think, in Fallout 3, there’s a mixing of genres there that’s pretty rare in a lot of other games.
Now, if you’re asking if, as a creative person, I’d prefer to create a completely new IP from scratch, the answer is — it depends. If I had what I thought was a great idea, and were given the opportunity to create a new IP, would I want to do that? Sure. But if I were offered the Batman or Blade Runner licenses and asked if I could a make a game based on those IPs, I would kill for that chance as well. It depends on the strength of the IP, and what I thought I could bring to it. The latter is exactly what happened with Fallout 3.
There are still plenty of opportunities to be very unique within existing IPs, and I very much enjoy doing that. That’s basically what happened with the Dark Brotherhood stuff in Oblivion. The IP was there, the lore was there… I took it, was inspired by it, but in the end I sort of did my own thing (for better or worse). And I loved every second of it.While I enjoyed it [Dark Brotherhood Questline for Oblivion], I found it was not really revolutionary, and as with almost all of the quest lines in Oblivion, it was completely linear.Now that's odd. I might be misreading here, but is Emil actually arguing that the gameplay, which is basically the same in both Fallout 1 and 2 and the philosophy of which is well documented is "the most subjective"? Compared to a setting/atmosphere that is approached completely differently in both titles and in which even the most basic setting points are points of contention? 'scuse me, Mr Pagliarulo, that looks to me to be a rather illogical viewpoint to take.
Emil: True, it was linear, but that was by design. Quests with multiple paths were never planned for Oblivion… with the amount of content we had, we simply didn’t have the time or resources to design them that way. So they had a different, more straightforward structure, and we were totally fine with that.
In Fallout, we have fewer quests, and they tend to have a level of complexity far beyond those in Oblivion. Multiple paths, multiple choices, etc. In the Dark Brotherhood, even if you learned who the traitor was, you couldn’t really affect the outcome. In Fallout 3, a quest like that would certainly have allowed the player more options.
Very different games.
Doesn’t the fact that you’re making a sequel to someone else’s intellectual property obligate you to maintain continuity with the design goals and principles (pen and paper RPGs) of the series you’ve taken upon yourselves to do.
Emil: I think we have a responsibility to make a good game, true to the source material, and I think we’re doing that.
Do I feel we need to maintain continuity with the design goals and principles (pen and paper RPGs) of the series? It depends on how you define those design goals and principles. Do we feel like we have to do exactly what the creators of Fallout 1 and 2 did? Clearly not. I don’t think it’s at all my responsibility to make a game that was just like the previous ones. I think it’s my responsibility to make the best game I can, one that’s true to the Fallout universe, spirit and style of gameplay (though this last bit is the most subjective of all).
How is the pen and paper basis of Fallout manifested in the gameplay of Fallout3?
Emil: Pen and paper gameplay is all about freedom of expression and choice, the way I see it. Those values are obviously evident in Fallout and Fallout 2. So that was one of our big design goals going in… give the player choices. Give the player the freedom to go where they want, and do what they want.
But you also have to be careful, because playing a video/computer game is much different than playing a paper and pencil game. Your DM or game master is there to prevent you from “breaking” the game and ruining the experience. So that’s our job as well — we have to handle stuff to prevent you from completely breaking your game. Games are an imperfect technology. Something can always go wrong. So you provide the player with a lot of freedom… but within a framework. You can give the player the freedom to, say, kill someone who gave them a quest… so long as that doesn’t put the player in a weird state where other quests break, etc. That’s just sloppy, so we have to take the time to cover those bases. But in an open-world game, there are only so many bases you can realistically handle. So it’s a judgment call.
Keep up the fan interaction, though!
Link: Another return of Emil on Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog.