The developers continue to speak to the fans on the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum, this time professional enfant terrible Killzig asked if “is there a big board in the office/writer’s pit keeping tabs on the general amount of [censored]ery/[censored]ery/or otherwise inappropriate language being stuffed into the dialog trees?” to which Fred “Fizzbang” Zeleny replied:
Well, as with most game companies, the lead designer reads everything we write, and makes sure things have a consistent style and generally fit the proper tone and mood, from the most uptight vault dweller to the foulest slaver. But we don’t have a big swear board counting up the tallies of our curses, or anything…
“Hey, we need fifteen more [censored]s and twelve [censored]s from this character to meet quota!”
“That’s the spirit! And don’t get lazy with ’em! We still need something special for this other character!”
“Oh, that [censored]ing, [censored]-[censored]ing, [censored] squirrel-[censored] with the [censored]-[censored]ed [censored] face?”
“Sounds like someone’s bucking for a promotion!”
“I said ‘bucking’!”
Besides being an hilarious reply, does that mean we are going to have Vault Dwellers and Slavers on Fallout 3?
Mark “Wolfric Tugmutton” Lampert had a very interesting reply to this, coming from a different perspective:
I don’t contribute to the writing of the dialogue myself, though I might suggest minor changes here and there during voice recording sessions. But most of the time it’s something that the lead designer and I (along with the voice actor) agree on. Sometimes you have to hear the written dialog as it’s translated through the actors to really get a feel for how it’s going to sound, because it might come across differently from what the writer heard in his or her head at the time they wrote it. It certainly applies to profanity where it makes sense in some context but not in another, and when you hear it spoken as it’s really going to sound in the game, we might feel as though it’s gratuitous and doesn’t sound natural. So the lead designer or myself might suggest an alternate line right there, or the actor might even suggest, “This would probably sound more natural if I said ______ instead.”
But this doesn’t apply just to profanity. Sometimes a line is just difficult to say because of the choice of words and needs a quick rearrangement so that it can ‘flow’. So we re-write it on the fly without changing the meaning, intent or emotion. This kind of thing happens in the film world all the time, if not more often. A classic example that you’ve all heard would be when Han Solo is about to go into the carbonite freeze and Leia tells Han, “I love you,” to which he replies, “I know.” Apparently the original reply was that he loves her, too, but Harrison Ford felt it wasn’t what Han Solo would say, being the kind of character that he is. So he suggested the change to Lucas who gave it the thumbs up, and there it is.
Anyway, to summarize all of this, the game’s dialogue goes through many stages of filtering and re-writing before it’s really considered ‘finished’. From when the designer is writing it in their cube for the first time to when it’s re-read the next day and changed, to team reviews in a meeting room, our QA department playing the game and finding a logic problem or aesthetic change that needs to be made, to the voice recording sessions and even after that. There will always be a small amount of lines that we’ll make changes to even in the final weeks of a project if it’s still feasible to do so. The material that you fans hear upon playing the finished game has been discussed, listened to, re-worked and hammered over many times before it reaches your ears! It’s all part of the process, though, because we all take a lot of pride in the games we make, so everyone wants each and every little detail to come out just right.
And Socrates200x replied to a question about if they can talk about the game more openly after the Game Informer exclusive:
Same as always, kemosabe. We can talk about what’s been talked about.
That’s a shame, oh well.