DW: Why did you guys want to make a new Fallout?
EP: It was one of those wish list things. We were talking about what we want to do if we could get a licence, “Oh, this could be cool, this would be great”, and we realised Fallout was top of that list.
DW: What else was on that list?
EP: I think Todd and I had wanted to make a Batman game forever. I think we talked about Bladerunner at some point. Bethesda makes the Terminator games so I’m sure that came up. But for me it was Fallout. For some reason when Fallout hit the list it was like a pipe dream, it wouldn’t happen, you know? And then [when Interplay auctioned off its licenses] it was like “Oh wow!” We just jumped on it.
DW: So would you have made a post-apocalyptic RPG even without Fallout?
EP: No, it wasn’t like we were going to make a post-apocalyptic RPG and then Fallout came along. We were going to make Fallout or something else.[…]
EP: You know obviously when I first came here Todd and I talked about the Thief stuff and how much of that stuff did we wanted to find its way into Oblivion. I mean the real issue of making good a stealth game like Thief or Splinter Cell is that you know these are linear games with one core gameplay mechanic, and that is sneaking. And you know when you work on a stealth game, you realise how tightly designed stealth gameplay has to be. In a game where you’re a fighter swinging in with a sword or where you have a gun, a lot of times the environment doesn’t make a difference. But for sneaking, the environment is half the gameplay. Back in the Thief days the game designers were also the level designers, they were creating the gameplay in the space they were building because they were so interdependent. Now that’s not really the case.
But that said, I think there’s a level of tension you get with stealth gameplay that you don’t get with anything else. So we started with Oblivion and the stealth system in Fallout is actually a lot more robust than the stealth system in Oblivion. A lot of that has to do with the enemy AI and the different search states that they have. In Oblivion you’re either detected or hidden, now there are stages in between and you’ll know when to be cautious. In Fallout people can be actively searching for you, they’ll actually do the Thief thing and you’ll hear “Where are you? I hear something” and there’s that level of tension there that you didn’t have in Oblivion. You know I was just playing the [Supermart area] fighting the raiders and it’s like a lot of times in Fallout, the feeling is so desperate and you feel like you’re struggling for survival and when you’re sneaking you really feel like “Oh god, don’t find me, please don’t find me”. You’d get that occasionally in Oblivion I think, but for me it actually works better in a post-apocalyptic setting than I thought it would. In Fallout it’s more like the stealth stuff complements your regular gameplay, but it’s definitely a viable approach.