GameDev has an interesting interview with Bethsoft World Builder Nathan Purkeypile, a few snippets:
Q: Fallout 3 comes out of a popular series with a unique setting. What is it like working with an existing IP that already has an art style?
A: Working with the Fallout IP is actually something that fits very well with my own personal style as an artist. For a long time I have had a fascination with ruined and abandoned structures. So being able to create an entire world filled with things like that is the best thing I could ask for. The fact that the style was pre-existing is pretty much irrelevant, because if I was left to my own devices to make art, it would look exactly like Fallout. When I was working at Retro Studios on Metroid Prime 3, my friend Joel Burgess told me over and over how I needed to come to Bethesda to work on Fallout 3 because I was “born to make this game.”[…]
Q: How many team members do you have, and how has the teamwork been managed?
I think our development team is around 70 people, though I don’t know the actual number offhand. We also have HR, Sales, Marketing and QA on top of that. Teamwork is mostly managed by compartmentalizing things. For instance, world artists are in two basic groups, interiors and exteriors. Because of this split, people are able to concentrate their efforts more easily on making a particular facet of the game shine. Sometimes we also form miniature teams that are across various disciplines. For instance, while working on a major city for the game, a miniature team might form composed of the lead designer, a level designer, a producer and an artist. These people will meet frequently to just discuss this one aspect of the game. It is much easier to make something that is actually great for the game this way. Otherwise people might tend to focus on their own department’s needs. An area needs to not only look good, but play right and fit within the game as a whole.