Well being a somewhat distant spectator of the development of Fallout 3, leaving notes for other people to explore and trying to understand their reactions is a fine hobby, but there are times when the fan in me just comes out in a burst.
We’re very, very happy that Fallout came along 10 years ago to play a major role in returning the RPG genre to prominence, and also that we were able to celebrate its anniversary in such an interesting, personal way. We thank Scott Bennie, Dan Spitzley, Chris Avellone (who also did his own cartoons), John Deiley, Chris Taylor, and Scott Everts for finding the time to reflect on their respective experiences while working on the property, and to share some of them with us in this special feature.
And some great experiences they were! A few snippets:
Scott Benie: I never worked on a team that gelled as well as the one I worked with on Fallout, and I’ve worked with some incredibly talented and creative people. When I look at modern RPGs, I can see echoes of Fallout in their plots, and that makes me very, very happy.
Dan Spitzley: As for Van Buren, I was one of the primary gameplay programmers, and I spent most of my time converting code we had written for the canceled Baldur’s Gate 3 to be relevant for a Fallout game. I was only on that project for a few months before I left for Obsidian. It was becoming clearer that Black Isle wasn’t going to be around for much longer. It was very disappointing when the end came, especially since the final playable demo showed pretty clearly how great the game could have been.
Chris Avellone: I’m going to list off a number of my memories as something a stream of consciousness – starting with reluctantly having to say “no” to Tim Cain’s offer to work on Fallout as an area designer so I could instead have nails driven into my skull with Descent to Undermountain…
Writing up the design vision document for Van Buren and feeling that same singing sensation I did after writing the Torment vision doc and feeling it click…
Offering to pay Chris Jones for his time to work on the editor out of my own pocket…
John Deiley: Well, as I said, we had less than two weeks left to go and… it just happened. The game suddenly came together due to the massive teamwork that we all put into it. To this day, I marvel at the fact that we pulled it off. And I have no idea how we managed to do it!
Chris Taylor: Fallout wasn’t the first choice for the title. I’d guess most hardcore fans would know it was originally was going to be Vault-13. Unfortunately, as nifty keen as V13 is, it had to be changed since it didn’t communicate the genre very well; in full, it was Vault-13: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Role-Playing Game, which was rather unwieldy for everyday conversation.
The team proposed a bunch of names. We settled on Armageddon for a brief time, but found out another Interplay project was going to use that, so had to switch again. Fallout was team’s favorite among the remainder. The other Armageddon was canceled shortly thereafter, but since we had already announced Fallout, it was too late to change back.
Scott Everts: Fallout 1 was an amazing project, mostly because we didn’t know what we had. The company considered it a B-grade game, so they pretty much left us alone. We made a game we all wanted to play, and everything just came together. I created all the game maps, some layouts sketched on napkins! I don’t think we realized how well it turned out until the last few months when others started playing it. These days, with budgets so large, it’s hard to do a game that experimental.
Fallout 2 was grueling. It had to be out by the following Christmas, and be 50 percent larger. What made it all worthwhile was the Fallout 2 Fan Party we had at Triangle Square in Orange County. It was the first time I got a taste of what it’s like being a rock star! The area was full of diehard Fallout fans, many dressed in costume. We had a band and signed copies while mingling with fans and press. Wow!
There’s a lot more in the article, like the importance of Sasha, the Rocket Launcher that fired puppies or Chris Avellone’s inspired cartoons.