What I'm Doing Right Now

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Vault - Extended Interview on Fallout: Me, Roland, and Elinor

Elinor Bass, Roland King, and I were interviewed by a columnist in the now-exhaustively famous Heart Thumpin' Games in early March of this year, basically to ask questions from the fans, about Fallout, and the future for TF141 Media. This one's pretty interesting, since they don't speak a whole lot of Fallout. Which IS kinda nice, it's becoming exhausting answering interviewer's questions about Fallout.

HTG: I got my first look at Online back in late 2010. Let me tell you, I was rather pleased with what they showed me. What part did you have in it?

TF141: Oh just about everything. We helped Masthead on art, weapon design, character models, and, Roland's personal favorite, level design. We've helped with animation, scripted events, and interface models. It's going to be big.

HTG: Alec, I read in your now-infamous post in your web log, that you gave quite some criticism over the fact that Fallout, an RPS, was being turned into an MMO. How do you feel about that?

TF141: Wow. I can't believe people actually read my blog. [laughs] Well, in all honesty, I've TRIED to enjoy MMOs. I took one look at World of Warcraft and, in my opinion, it's the dumbest game ever invented. I mean, games are for something truly hooking, not just for a big, random chunk of events filled with idiotic online players and ridiculously hard player vs player fights. That happens all the time, but we want Fallout to be different. But I think without Bethesda, or hell, even the fingerprints from the now-broken up Black Isle, would of helped the game's ideas skyrocket, but Masthead seems to know what they're doing. We just don't see Fallout to become an MMO.

HTG: What inspired you to become an independent game studio?

TF141: We've all enjoyed video games since the day we first played as Mario, or blasted through Green Hill as Sonic the Hedgehog. Eventually, though, one of my dreams soon became to be an excellent gaming programmer. When I first played an Elder Scrolls game, that's when it kicked off for me. For Alec, it was Sonic Adventure. For Roland, it was Halo, I believe.

TF141: So, one day, we played Fallout, and we thought, "Hey! This is really good! But we can help make it better!" We applied for Bethesda, when they signed the Fallout contract, and helped give out some designs for Elder Scrolls IV, and sure enough, there we were, working on, arguably, the most groundbreaking RPG of this decade. Well... maybe games like Mass Effect did that as well. But Fallout broke through a lot of boundaries, and defined how to make a role-playing game.

HTG: What about your airplay? I've noticed that, while you score several 'hands on' interviews and extended chats in the UK and all of Europe, you don't broadcast in the Americas. Why is that?

TF141: TF141 Media, LLC is, in its entirety, a United Kingdom studio. Our US studio is for making Project V13 ONLY. Not for broadcasting mega-hits on G4TV, not for leaking random info, just for production.

HTG: What do you think is the single greatest moment in Fallout history?

TF141: Oh my god. Well, when Bethesda gained the rights to the Fallout series, everything skyrocketed from there. Fans that were waiting for almost a decade, would not only see their favorite game brought back to life after nearly a decade, and would soon meet a brand new generation of gaming. Fallout was a game with high potential from the start, wasted by numerous less successful spin-offs and imitators, but the ambitions and high expectations that Fallout 3 had were amazing. Fans expected so much difference from the then-young 90's.

And another memorable moment was when we finally embraced the complexity of it all. All the numerous quests, the confusing level up system, the endless traveling, the incredible storyline, everything about Fallout 3 seemed to pay off in the end. And once we got into it, we instantly said to ourselves: "THIS is a winner!"

And the last could of been, yet the most saddest event, the break-up of the two companies, Interplay and Bethesda, for Fallout Online. One game, one dispute, turned into years-long battles and wars between the two. It's sad. We just want everything to die down and eventually Fallout Online, with the correct fingerprints on the package, will be the biggest Fallout game in HISTORY.

HTG: You've all worked on some of the single biggest RPGs in gaming history aside from Fallout, like the Elder Scrolls series, Mass Effect, and I heard you've worked on the expansion for Dragon Age, awakening. What do you think is crucial to making an RPG.

TF141: Reasons to keep you going. Take the numerous quests and weapons in games like Borderlands, for example. You had a REASON to complete those quests, and determination. Character creation, weapons, quests, rewards, a hooking, beyond-generic plotline, all of these can make up a good roleplaying game. Providing a player to keep on going is majorly important, and crucial to replay value.

So keep on giving. Fallout 3's numerous DLC packs with different environments were great examples to expanding horizons. Give new, fresh ideas and new, fresh gameplay out more and more, and you'll earn yourself a following, for sure. Just gotta know what's right and what's wrong.

HTG: Just how advanced do you think gaming has gone?

TF141: That's so hard to debate on. Gaming has taken a considerable step-up for various genres, and not so much for others. See, making a game is difficult, because the $60,000,000 question remains lying there: "What does the audience want?" The amount of effort that goes into games nowadays is both some of the laziest shit ever thrown, and some of the most intelligent, hard work ever done. I'm really proud of everyone at Bethesda, and at TF141 Media, for everything. I'd even thank the guys at Obsidian for New Vegas for all the improvements they made.

We like games that show effort, give a reason to keep playing on, and will stay true to your heart. Fallout was something different than usual. It's a standard first-person shooter and an RPG at heart, a role-playing shooter, but there's a certain feel to Fallout, the bleak universe and tongue-in-cheek, though very dark, humor that helped whip other RPGs into shape.

HTG: What about behind-the-scenes of New Vegas? What was that like?

TF141: Oh man, we nearly pissed our pants that they would start another Fallout so early. We were so excited. Working with Obsidian was good for a change. Now, making New Vegas was somewhat difficult. We thought, "okay, let's take everything from Fallout 3, add some new elements, and improve on everything. So we added new ideas to everything. As for writing New Vegas, there weren't as many moral choices on yourself that you depended on by yourself, there were moral choices to a faction you're loyal to that depended on game progression. We had to write, I shit you not, five entirely different scripts for each playthrough. It was exhausting work. Especially the end of the game, the fight for Hoover Dam.

Gameplay-wise, it was much different. The customization of weapons was really new to us, the addition of Hardcore mode, different perks, different new quests, and a new location. We were used to the desolate, yet humble Capitol Wasteland, if humble helps define how attached we've grown to the series, and everything changed when we moved, instead of near the East Coast, to the West. It felt different, but it seemed to work out.

HTG: I read Alec's interview with Gemini's Axl Long. I take it you two are friends?

Yeah, we met one another sometime during 2003, when they were making a new album. We had some stuff in common: we both liked lamb stew, we both enjoyed music, and we both enjoyed Fallout. It's pretty cool to talk to people like him.

HTG: Now that you're helping Bethesda with Fallout 4, do you feel excited about it?

TF141: We felt horrible about Fallout Online. We didn't want to help Interplay, we really wanted to stay loyal to the people who recognized our potential, but Fallout was so dear to us.

HTG: That's understandable.

TF141: But, we felt that if Fallout was to continue, we'd at least help Bethesda on their next swan song. We're worrying that if the dispute between Interplay and Bethesda continue... you know, Online and 4 may be delayed again. But we're more determined than ever for the two games, Fallout 4 and Online. We've sent Bethesda a lot of scripts, storyboards (well, I call it a gameboard - Gregg Cross), character models, environments, and weapon sketches. I'm proud of everything Bethesda's striving for. I swear, though, if Online isn't good...

HTG: I see your point. One last question: when can we expect Fallout 4?

TF141: No idea. Probably around mid or late 2012, hell, even 2013. Don't expect it to rush to stores right away, though. For now, New Vegas will keep you addicted.

Many thanks for Planet Fallout for bringing this to life on the net, and Gregg and Darrin, the brothers, as well. Without you guys, this amazing interview wouldn't of been possible.

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