Here’s the second part of this @$!$!$% interview for No Mutants Allowed. For amusement’s sake and in my continuing quest to irritate Odin, I have answered only certain questions and answered them out of order. Some questions I have even answered multiple times in different ways, because multiple personality disorder is always funny, much like sex with a clown is.
There is profanity, bitterness, and snide comments in this interview, so if you’re easily offended, go back to GamersWhoOnlyPlayInEasyMode.com, because I don’t want you reading this anyway, you big sissy.
57. Anything you’d like to tell the public concerning Fallout or Obsidian Entertainment, or hell, even about future projects you’re working on?
Why... I’m glad you asked, Odin.
Before jumping into the questions below, I should say to everyone (based on the responses to the last interview) that I don’t have any Fallout stuff to pass along. Don’t ask me for any. I don’t have any resources, docs, screenshots, notes, or anything other than what I faintly remember in my noggin. If you write or ask me or call me, I will become angry and shout (or e-shout) at you, using filthy words that would make your mother’s ears curl and her eyes roll into the back of her head, much like she does when she has sex with a clown. So leave me alone, and leave my inbox alone. Thank you.
I’m ALSO glad you asked how Obsidian is doing. We’re doing fucking great. We are still looking for artists, designers, and programmers, however, who wouldn’t mind working on our third RPG slated to come down the pipe. If that interests you, see www.obsidianent.com for more details, and for the love of the Norse pantheon, follow the directions there. Do not write to me, because I will lose your resume, and even if I don’t, you will lose points for not following directions because I am a grumpy old man.
As for future projects? :: Light chuckle, sips martini :: Why, again, it’s amazing you asked that. I have a Star Wars comic book short story coming out in Star Wars Tales #24, so if you want to read more about the origins of Visas Marr and Darth Nihilus, check it out. Dustin Weaver does the art, and he’s good and stuff. He does the story in black and white, but it’s not Frank Miller Sin City style, if that makes any sense. There's also noone getting their balls shot off or being devoured by starving wolves.
Oh, go to Question ”Fourteen” if you want a Fallout answer with substance. The rest of this is me rambling and grumbling and cussing.
15. What’s your favorite Fallout memory?
I don’t know. Long walks on the beach maybe? The first kiss? What kind of dumbass question is this? I didn’t have a romantic relationship with the game, for fuck’s sake.
My most vivid memory was listening to the recording where Ron Perlman threatened my life, my dog (I don’t have one), and my family while attempting to read the lines for the endgame sequences in Fallout 2. That was cool. I have no idea where the audio file is to this day, but I’m sure it’ll turn up eventually in some archive. It also made it really uncomfortable meeting him for Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter and explaining to him that he was going to play a transvestite dragon.
I have other ”favorite” memories based on hate. My favorite memory is when some spineless prick in QA decided that my take on ”Mrs. Wright” was actually a jab at our executive producer, who at the time (coincidentally enough) was Trish Wright, and felt it was his duty to place his tongue firmly against her posteir, lap as hard as he could like some thirsty dog desperate for water, and ”report” me. He sent screenshots, a description of the problem, his concerns and other crap. Once I heard of this second-hand (the best way to hear about such things), I wrote a formal apology and explanation to ”Mrs. Wright” and in it, explained exactly why the dipshit was wrong. Welcome to the black list and thanks for bringing it up with me first, fucker! Last I heard, his face was shaped like a hatchet from trying to wedge it up various posteirs across the industy, which means he will go far.
I also have pleasant memories of Odin continually asking for confidential information on the game with the conditional ”Oh, I won’t tell anyone” tacked on. For anyone reading this, if you ever ask me for confidential information, you’re wasting your time, and furthermore, you’re making me angry. Don’t make me angry. I am angry and bitter enough as it is.
.011b. What specifically inspired Fallout for you? What were the biggest influences?
Probably Fallout 1.
.011c. Uh... that’s really not an acceptable answer.
Then my answer is nothing inspired Fallout for me, it wasn’t my brainchild or anything like that – thank Tim and the original crew (including Freyermuth, Taylor, and Campbell, who everybody always seems to forget, much to my irritation – maybe you could get him to do an interview next, brainiacs). It was as close to a modern-day setting as I could get, and I was pleased to do quests and characters that weren’t classical fantasy.
.011d. Well, what about after you became familiar with Fallout 1?
If I can speak about anything that DID come close to inspiring me after I became familiar with Fallout, I would say that ”A Boy and His Dog,” ”The Atomic Cafe,” and 2 books – ”Earth Abides,” and ”Lucifer’s Hammer” (not because of the setting, but because of all the cool people and conflict angles that developed when the meteor hit). I still have all this research movie crap sitting in my bedroom that I was watching/reading for Fallout, and some of it was pretty cringeworthy, others were pretty cool, but it’s not worth listing them all out.
C13. Pop Culture played a big role in Fallout, what pop culture influences you?
I don’t even understand this question. Is this ”what pop culture influences inspired you in Fallout” or ”what pop culture influences inspire you now?” I await Odin’s answer before I tackle this puzzling, yet intriguing, question. But I doubt anyone cares about the answer anyway. Cue drumroll.
717. What was it like being part of the Fallout team?
It was great! Wow! It was the best! Man, the times we had! The hookers! The blow! It was a non-stop orgy!
But aside from the hookers and blow, I wasn’t part of the original Fallout team. I was asked, but couldn’t join at the time. One of the worst decisions of my life. Except dating Scandanavian girls. Don’t date them. Especially if they’re A-type personalities, who'll take any form of compromise in a relationship as weakness and go for the throat with a battle-axe. This is based solely on my experience with Odin's Mom, I swear.
Being on the Fallout 2 team was ”cool” in the same way as being one of the survivors who stormed the beach during the Normandy invasion was ”cool.” Nothing builds camaraderie more than being at the frontlines to get a game done as fast as possible so your company didn’t go under. I cut many man-months off of Torment to give my soul up to Fallout, and then switched over and ran the same ragged pace on Torment until the end. During that time, I fought in the 1st Shogo Rebellion (where nightly sessions of Shogo playing was formally protested with colorful metaphors by yours truly), served alongside First Lieutnant Dan Spitzley during the Documentation Cessastion of Vault City, marched with Captain Weenis during the scripting of New Reno, and was part of the Trail of Editing, where many manhours were spent editing badness out of the scripts.
6,945. Were there things that you wished you had added to either Fallouts?
Polish in Fallout 2? Maybe more to do in Shady Sands? I will say I wish we’d cut some maps out of San Francisco or else cut the location (and Colin McComb would probably agree), and Vault 15 probably wasn’t necessary, either. We were already putting too much into the game anyway, and I think the extra design time ended up detracting from the game rather than helping.
F4. Seriously, now that you’ve had time to cool down, what’s your favourite Fallout memory?
Actually, I did have a real Fallout memory that was all right – it was Fallout 2, and T-Ray (now a lead artist at Obsidian, working on Neverwinter Nights 2) came storming in when he realized he was in the game, and demanded he look over his script for dialogue inconsistencies such as ”business” vs. ”bidness.” He reluctantly approved the ”die after having too much sex with the player character” sequence and grudgingly agreed to allow the many references to his garage-ridden Impala to remain in the game, which I have always secretly believed to be a sad, sad testament to his pride and fall. For anyone who can guess where his Impala is NOW, I will grant you a free NMA interview with Trammel in all his glory.
Oh, and the Fallout 2 release party was cool – when we thought we had something to be proud about before the negative feedback started rolling in. Then going to a local Irish pub across the street, The Harp, afterwards and drinking ourselves into an uncomfortable stupor, since no one could keep a conversation going.
BTW, another favorite Fallout memory was when I discovered that Intelligence affected dialouge in Fallout 1, and you could have ”dumb speak.” I thought that was the coolest dialogue mechanic I had ever heard of in a long time.
Other minor cool Fallout in-game memories: Talking with Torr while dumb (Matt Norton), first hearing Set speak (Mark O’Green), running into the shotgun wedding encounter with a female character and laughing out loud (Jason Suinn), realizing it was possible to build a swimming pool with the F2 tileset (John Deiley), and digging up Lenny’s dad for the first time while Lenny’s in the party. Writing Myron was fun, even though he was useless except as a brain.
Fourteen. What were you favourite places in fallout and why?
My favorite places were in F3, but since they were ”dream” locations, unfettered by the constraints of design, they achieved a wondrous glory in my eyes and mind. I’ll tack those on at the end of this answer. I have no idea how they changed after I left, but I’ll write what I remember about them before my departure... again, at the end of this answer. Is there an echo in here, Avellone?
In Fallout 2, Vault City I thought was pretty cool, but I’m biased. I think Jason (who drove off to Arizona in an RV, last I heard) and Leonard are in love with uprisings and class oppression, since they refined the theme in VC and in Arcanum. I thought the Glow was really creepy, and I liked Zax and the chess-inspired trap at the end. I liked designing New Reno, and I think it was a fun location with lots of fun things to do despite all the bullshit that gets leveled against it to this day. I also liked Shady Sands, which I think was the first example in Fallout 1 where I realized things were going to be much, much different in this role-playing game than any other role-playing game I’d played.
I do also have favorite characters, mostly Mark O’ Green inspired – Set, the Lieutenant, and Sulik, etc., etc.
Now, as for favorite locations in Fallout 3, my favorite was the Big Empty (the Big Mt. Training facility run by Mr. Handys). There was lots of military-inspired goodness, plus an obstacle course we planned for a player to be able to run, using their different skillsets to outwit the mechanical judges and training officers. There was also a small ”Moletown” outside of the Big Empty where a crazy survivalist had trapped all the buildings and dug out a series of tunnels beneath the town to try and wipe out anyone or anything that tried to crawl in there.
I really liked the Boulder Dome because it was supposed to cater to the ”Science Boy” character in the group (intended to be the new fourth class, like Combat Boy, Stealth Boy, etc.), allowing him to unlock the various labs like puzzle pieces, and be able to take research back to the Dome to be decrypted and build new items... and there was a cool zombie sequence planned where ghouls would begin to find their way into the Boulder Dome floor by floor from the Crater to the north, and the player would have to fight them level by level like something out of Day of the Dead.
Denver I’ve probably talked enough about, but that was the first place you could get a Mr. Handy police administration robot to join your party (Jobe) and also stake out mining recovery claims on certain city blocks of your choosing and come back and check on the progress later. Also, some of the battles against the leftover relics of the Denver administration computer was some cool moments, along with the prototype robo-dog police robots, which Josh Sawyer was able to wipe out with a single shotgun shell because he is a man of many sorrows. Seven, in fact.
I also liked the Nursery, which was a homage to the Agricultural Center in Wasteland. The Nursery was a secluded environmental shelter that still held samples of seeds and animal DNA that the player could use to try and restore a small section of the gameworld, if they wanted to. The problem was, the different isolated ecologies in the Agricultural Center were hostile to each other, and the animals and plants would tear into any hostile ecology or critter they could get their claws into... player characters included.
There was a bunch of others, too – Hoover Dam, Fort Aradesh (Fort Abandon), Circle Junction, the Crater, the tribes of the Ciphers, Hangdogs, the Vipers and Jackals (who were long ago intended for F1, but got dropped) all of these tribes which you could gather into an Army, Caesar’s Legion of Slavers (Caesar was Tim’s original name for the slaver guy in the Den, and I wanted to ressurect him for the third game), the Daughters of Hecate (who were trying to control all the tribes through their knowledge of healing and medecine, taken from the old world), and lots of other crazy shit. Ah, well.
8000. What is your hope for future Fallout games? Would you like to be a part of a future Fo team?
My hope for future Fallout games is they get made. I suspect they will now. I doubt the fanbase will ever think they’re being done right, no matter who does them, Cain included. We’re not the same people we were 5-10 years ago, and design methods change, and George Lucas alone is proof that age, position, and a sizeable change in salary and job security can change your ”voice” over the years. The world changes. Interest rates fluctuate.
To be honest, I wish Fallout would just die and people would make new post-holocaust RPGs that are even better than Fallout. But hey, whatever.
Deathrace 3000. Who would you bring with you in a future Fallout team and why? Please answer sarcastically, if at all possible.
I would bring all the children of the world, and tell them to design a word ravaged by war where Mommy and Daddy are not yet dead, but are instead rotting from the inside from invisible energies. Then I would make them watch The Day After, right up to the point where Jason Robards (did I spell that right?) is crawling around in the wreckage of the city, gasping for life as he’s dying of radiation poisoning. It’s so touching.
As for who I would bring? I don’t know… duh, a good producer, a good lead designer, a good lead programmer, a good lead artist, and a bunch of talented people? Who the fuck did you think? Jesus Christ.
3001. Enough with the childlike profanity, and please give us some names so you can ostracize people you used to work with and may work with again.
Let’s see. Jason Suinn, Scott Campbell, Scotty Everts (if he still wanted to do games), that guy who did the concept art for Fallout 1 (his name escapes me), and then I would remove myself from the project entirely and go back to the hookers and blow.
0. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
This is something you’d ask someone interviewing for a job, good one, Odin. Zzzzsnore.
Well, in ten years, I’ll either be dead from a caffeine-induced heart attack, still doing game design, or wake up one day and suddenly discover Electronic Arts has bought exclusive rights to run my life. I wouldn’t mind writing some comic books or novels along the way (shameless plug: see Star Wars Tales #24, on sale at comic book stores near you - just as a reminder). Just sitting around doing nothing would be cool, too, at least for a while.
Epilogue, but not really: In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that every RPG should have?
I cannot answer this question at this time, because it’s one of the questions we ask on the design test for Obsidian, and I wouldn’t want to skew results.
Ah, who cares – but I’ll answer it next time in Part III of this interview, if you all want to read that much again.
“Thanks” again, Odin, you little news-weasel. May you burn in hell.