- Tell us a little about yourself, what have you accomplished in life?
I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I went to Lawrence University and graduated with a B.A. in history and minor in theatre. After I graduated, I went to work for the Interplay web team (I had done web design throughout college, and it was my work on a tattoo parlorís website that got me hired). I redesigned the Planescape: Torment website and worked with the developers until Feargus agreed to have me work part-time as a junior designer on Icewind Dale. I later worked on Heart of Winter, Icewind Dale II, and two cancelled projects. My greatest accomplishment to date is graduating from high school with the National School Choral Award.
- What are your favourite computer games/board games and why?
My favourite computer games are Fallout, Darklands, Pool of Radiance (original), Tribes, Battlefield: 1942, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Age of Empires, and Age of Kings. The first three were all great RPGs with a lot of replay value. The first time I played Fallout, I barely took breaks to eat and sleep. As soon as I finished it, I replayed the whole game again. I still load up Darklands every once in a while to try different parties. Pool of Radiance had epic turn-based battles that have yet to be matched; Temple of Elemental Evil realistically beats it, but Pool has the nostalgia factor going for it.
Tribes, BF:1942, and ET are all great team-based multiplayer games. They infuriate me to the brink of madness, but at their best, they are great. I generally donít play RTSs, but the Age games appealed to me because I enjoy the historical context. Very little pleases me more than rolling into a town with capped rams carrying Teutonic knights.
As for board games, my favourite is easily Siedler von Catan. I also like chess, but donít play it very often anymore.
- What hobbies do you have besides computer games?
I play pen and paper RPGs when I get the chance, which isnít often these days. I fence sabre and practice yoga for the olí corpore sano.
- What are your favourite bands/artists (music) ?
BjŲrk is easily my favorite. I also like Goldfrapp, P.J. Harvey, Mogwai, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Dawn Upshaw, Lamb, Morphine, Andreas Scholl, Beck, Amon Tobin, Calexico, Mandy Patinkin, David Bowie, Aphex Twin, Dead Can Dance, Sparta, Billie Holiday, Martina Topley-Bird, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, and many others.
When I hear people pumping phat beats at stop lights in San Diego, I like to roll up with Pagan Poetry at full volume.
- Tell us a little about your role in the making of Fallout 1/2/3 (Van Buren)/Tactics ?
I had nothing to do with Fallout, Fallout 2 or Tactics. I worked on Van Buren for its duration. At first, I was the lead technical designer, responsible mostly for the game system, editors, and interfaces. After Chris Avellone left, I became the lead designer, though I still focused mostly on technical issues.
- Whatís your favourite Fallout memory?
After I beat Fallout, I read on a message board that there was an evil ending. My character had such high karma that I had to go William Munny-style and kill every living thing that walked or crawled across the wasteland just to get to -11 karma for the evil ending.
- What specifically inspired Fallout for you? What were the biggest influences?
I have an inexplicable desire to take convoluted mechanics and make them elegant. Seeing GURPS throwbacks in Fallout makes me cringe to this day. If you enjoy game systems where armor both makes you more difficult to hit and reduces damage against you, Iím very sorry, but please throw yourself into a volcano.
- Pop Culture played a big role in Fallout, what pop culture influences you?
In truth, I am more influenced by ancient cultures than contemporary cultures. One of the few big things I did on Van Buren was taking an organization Chris invented and changing it (perhaps mangling it in the process) into a neo-Roman slaversí legion with all the weird titles, makeshift costumes, and traditions of that group.
- How was it to be a part of the Fallout team?
It was great. I was so glad to be working on what I had come to Black Isle to work on in 1999.
- Were there things that you wished you had added to either Fallouts?
I didnít work on either game, so itís not really my place to shift their contents around. Of course, that didnít stop me from changing things for a future title. Whatever aspects of Fallout or Fallout 2 were good or bad, time wonít change them.
- What were you favourite places in fallout and why?
The Necropolis was great because when I first went there, it was night. The music was really creeping me out and the ghouls were just adding to that sense of, ďWhat the fuck is going on here?Ē
I also loved the Cathedral for similar reasons.
- What is your hope for future Fallout games? Would you like to be a part of a future Fo team?
Iíd certainly love to play more Fallout games. Iíd like to be a part of a future Fallout team. Hopefully it will one day wind up with a publisher who understands the potential that it has. That is to say that its potential, while not huge, occupies a very specific niche that can still do very well commercially Ė without jacking up the elements that make it what it is.
- Who would you bring with you in a future Fallout team and why?
This is always risky because someone may wind up crying and peeing their pants because they arenít mentioned. Iíd definitely bring Chris Avellone. Iíd also be sure to have Brian Menze and Chris Appelhans. They are very different artists, but both are quite talented in different ways. Dr. Aaron Brown would be required for phenomenal modelling skills. Finally, weíd have to track down Sweet and have him do some loading screens.
He actually was doing contract work for Van Burenís loading screens. It was great to see him in the office. He was doing awesome work. Too bad he wasnít paid on time.
- In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that every RPG should have?
The ability to make diverging choices that have different, significant effects on the state of the game world (beyond kill flag variables). Beyond that, itís all up in the air.
- Where do you see computer RPGs going?
Straight to hell. There are very few companies making high-profile PC RPGs these days. Troika is one of the last pure PC RPG developer in the U.S. that I can think of. European companies seem to be one of the only bastions of hope. There are exceptions, of course, but I just donít see a lot of buzz for anything new these days. I predict that we may go through another dry spell, followed by a new wave once someone realizes that no one is making any high-profile PC RPGs.
- How does the fan base hinder/help the projects that youíve worked on?
They offer feedback. Some of it is good, some of it is not. They can also be evangelists, for good or ill. Iíve encountered people in the remote corners of the internet who have a completely incorrect understanding of what was intended for Van Buren simply because information wasnít communicated properly to them. Partially our fault sometimes, of course.
- When planning the story how do you go through the process of integrating themes and story with the constraints on software?
To be honest, I donít think that hardware/software has a huge effect on those planning phases. Certainly, there are environments we may have trouble representing adequately, but usually we write first and figure out the logistical problems (if any) after the main points and locations are down on paper.
- If you could make any computer game that you wanted, which would it be and why?
More than anything, I would have like to have finished Fallout 3. I have to admit there are other ideas I have that, momentarily, seem more appealing, but making Fallout 3 was what I wanted to work on for years.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
When I was 14, I thought that at 18, I would be an illustration student at MIAD or MCAD. When I was 18, I thought that at 22, I would be graduating with a B.M. in vocal performance. When I was 22, I thought that at 26, I would be designing websites for a small ISP in southern Wisconsin. I am notoriously bad at predicting where I will be in four years, so ten isnít happening.
- Any last word to the Fallout fan base?
Chris Jones, Chris Avellone, and Scott Everts spent a lot of time working on that goddamned editor, so some of you should use it.
- Fallout 2
- Fallout 3
- New Vegas
- Hosted Sites
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