Lead Designer of Fallout 3 Shares His Thoughts


The interview with Fallout 3 Lead Designer Emil Pagliarulo on Next Generation sparked a heated debate in several places, like the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum.

So Fallout 3 Lead Designer Emil Pagliarulo decided to expand on his statements to Next Gen and at the same time to reply to a few fan questions that were raised. You can read it from here, now for a few quotes from Emil:

Wow. Certainly lots of interesting opinions here — which, of course, is what being a Fallout fan is all about. smile.gif

ttsec — Honestly, naivety had nothing to do with it. I knew quite well how some of the hardcore fallout fans would ultimately view Bethesda’s take on Fallout 3. And, as lead designer, I knew I would be the subject of much of that criticism. It comes with the territory. I wouldn’t have accepted this position if I weren’t prepared to deal with that.

And you’re right, I did think “Oooh Fallout! I liked Fallout. It’d be fun to make a Fallout 3. Let’s mingle with the fans!” I still think that, every day I walk into the office, and it’s the reason I’m responding to this forum right now. I love interacting with the fans, and I love being a part of the community. That said, I also refuse to be villified or accept that I — or any other member of the Fallout team — is somehow doing something wrong simply because we’re making the game we want to make. Sorry, that’s just now how I roll.

I do admit that I, personally, have done a pretty crappy job of interacting with the fans on a regular basis. The reason is actually pretty simple — being lead designer of Fallout 3 keeps a guy crazy busy. I also have a family, and 4 kids, so in the end something’s got to give… and the thing has been me interacting with the fans. But reasons are only reasons to the person giving them — to everyone else they’re excuses. So, I’m really going to try to get better at that.

Anyway, if you’re wondering if we’re actually reading the forums, seeing what you guys are discussing… I think you’ve got your answer.
Till next time,


Why make Fallout 3:

Caligula — I mean, that’s really pretty simple. We love Fallout, and had talked about acquiring the license, and dreamed about creating a Fallout game “Bethesda-style” — immersive 3rd/1st person. You know, we don’t make the type of games we do simply because they’re the type of game the studio makes — we make them because we love them. We love feeling like we’re a part of a world. For us, making Fallout 3 was a chance for us to become a part of that world.

Did designers played the Fallout games:

Lingwei — Do I know for sure that every designer has played Fallout? Well, I haven’t stood over them with a whip and a can of mace and forced them to play, but yeah, they’ve all played Fallout to some degree. Are they all ardant fans? No… some of them love the game, some of them like the game, some are anywhere in between. Some weren’t very familiar with Fallout before we started Fallout 3, but they’re damn familiar now. Some of them were (and are) walking Fallout encyclopedias.
It’s a pretty well-balanced team, and the designers all have their specialties. Actually, it’s a great team, and one that makes my job that much easier.

“You love the original games, but hated the foundation that made them great. Therefore, you intend to “oblivionize it” as much as possible in order to please the Halo fans“:

All I can do is give you an honest answer, Caligula. I can’t make you like it.

As for shades of gray, and the Brotherhood of Steel depicted in my team diary — Very fair point, and yeah, I think those shades of gray are incredibly important. There are quite a few quests in Fallout where the truth isn’t quite what it seems, and it’s up to the player to determine what is right and what is wrong; and that’s certainly a there that pervades the entire game.
That’s not to say there can’t be characters who strive for something more noble. Elder Lyons wanted to help the people of the Capital Wasteland. Was he right? He certainly thought so. Did those around him agree? Not all of ’em.

Did you ever considered do a top down game:

Gizmo — Honestly, no, we never really considered making the game like that. And man, I loved me some Dungeon Keeper! But we really saw the game as third/first-person. Me, I prefer first-person by a longshot. It’s my preferred perspective for any game. I’m a sucker for immersion, and for me, first-person is the way to achieve that; it just so happens I work with a bunch of people who largely feel the same way, and want to make the same kinds of games.

Was it a surprise that migrating fans would expect the game to feature similar mechanics?

No, no surprise at all. We fully expected that. We knew from step one that some fans would accept what we were doing, some fans wouldn’t. But in the end, it was our job to come up with the vision of the project, and that’s what we did.

“I mean seriously if someone bought Oblivion or Morrowind and changed it to TB ISO you guys would be a little “volatile” too”:

You know, that’s the thing… that’s the really tough thing. I CAN understand why some Fallout fans would be bitter. I CAN understand why some Fallout fans would feel like someone took their world and flipped it upside down (or, erm, pulled their camera in…). You know, I try to think of one of my favorite, “old school” games. Let’s use Sid Meier’s Covert Action as an example. If I found out someone had acquired that license and was turning it into, I dunno… an XBox Live Arcade puzzle game… I’d be pretty miffed too. So I totally get why some fans would be put off by what we’re doing.

At the same time, we’re not making an Xbox Live puzzle game. We’re making an RPG, and I think a damned good one, and I think a lot of people are going to be really psyched to finally be able to enter into the Fallout universe in a more immersive manner.

More on this later.


2 thoughts on “Lead Designer of Fallout 3 Shares His Thoughts

  1. is it asking too much to have them drop the 3?

    why buy the license if you’re just going to change most of the core game play mechanics? couldn’t you have just made followed the same pattern as wasteland -> fallout -> ??? …

    so far the only thing justifying the license is the tacky pastiche they’ve splattered all over the east coast.


    That’s not to say there can’t be characters who strive for something more noble. Elder Lyons wanted to help the people of the Capital Wasteland. Was he right? He certainly thought so. Did those around him agree? Not all of ‘em.

    the only way this turn for the BOS is interesting if his trying to help the wasteland borders on the master’s method of helping the wasteland. i guess we’ll see for sure when the finished product hits shelves.

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