GameBanshee has put online the first part of a huge Q&A with Obsidian's co-founder and creative director Chris Avellone on Fallout: New Vegas and its downloadable content packs, delving particularly deeply into the latter with questions dealing with their themes and gameplay additions. Here's a snip:You explored different themes with each DLC. What themes would you say were the most important in these add-ons, and do you feel that Fallout's story traditions suit focusing on such themes?
Lonesome Road was purposely built around the final image at the end of Fallout 1 - the Vault Dweller walking off into a lonely future. The idea of a protagonist whose home is lost to him, walking off into the wilderness after helping to nurture and protect a place that ultimately exiles him (or where he simply no longer belongs) is one of the hallmarks of Fallout. The sense of abandonment and the lone wanderer connection was important in Lonesome Road, except you're not walking into a lonely future, you're walking into your character's past and seeing what it's done in the present. Ulysses hints that it's possible the player left the West and left NCR because he didn't belong, and that's why he walked the road to the Mojave - but that's Ulysses' perspective, and the motivations for your character are your own.
I think Old World Blues and Lonesome Road had two themes that strongly hooked into Fallout, and have always been there. The theme of Old World Blues was always "the optimistic atomic future of what might have been," and the idea that all of these technological marvels could have saved the world if they had simply had a better guiding hand - it's not the technology to blame, it's the thought behind it.
Dead Money was more of a survivalist horror experience, and the theme of greed and human nature was an experiment that I felt fit with the adventure arc, so I went with it. I did feel that Fallout could use some more struggle-for-survival elements, and that was part of it as well - in short, I wanted miracle items like Stimpaks to feel amazing again rather than cause players to shrug.
One of Dead Money's most unique features was the Sierra Madre itself, a resort and casino that was transformed into a deadly and dreary place. Has juxtaposition of old-world decadence and the darker side of life been a design or narrative goal of yours throughout the DLCs?
Depends on gameplay experience we're shooting for. Joe Sanabria, our art director for the DLCs, worked closely with the level builders so design and art reinforced each other and the DLC theme. We started with what we wanted the player to feel in the DLCs... in Dead Money, for example, we were specifically targeting isolation, terror, obscuring the player's view, claustrophobia, and the theme of greed - whether reflected in the decaying casino, the companion personalities, or the graffiti.