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Posted by Odin

  1. Tell us a little about yourself, what have you accomplished in life?

    I grew up in Virginia and worked at a small computer game company there while I was in high school. I went to college at the University of Virginia and then came to California to go to graduate school. I received a Master’s Degree in Computer Science at the University of California at Irvine, but I decided I wanted to make computer games again. I started at Interplay in 1991 and left to form my own company, Troika Games, in 1998.

  2. What are your favourite computer games/board games and why?

    I think Star Control 2 is my favourite computer game. It’s so stylish and rich in humour, and I like the free form exploration that the game allowed.

    I have been playing a lot of board games recently, and while I really like Puerto Rico, my all time favourite board game is Lord of the Rings. It’s wonderfully balanced and captures the spirit of the books so well. Plus, in a five-player game, someone has to play Fatty.

  3. What hobbies do you have besides computer games?

    I like to read a lot. Anything by Dan Simmons, Iain Banks or Peter Hamilton is an instant must-read for me. I also like to cook, walk my dog, watch re-runs of the Simpson’s, and sing in karaoke studios. Plus, I recently learned how to reupholster furniture, so maybe I have a skill I can fall back on if my job gets out-sourced to Bombay.

  4. What are your favourite bands/artists (music) ?

    I like to listen to ambient music most of the time, and my favourites are Brian Eno, Global Communication, Aphex Twin, Mystical Sun, Sephiroth, Boards of Canada, Synaesthesia, Stars of the Lid, and Dilate. I still listen to a lot of non-ambient music like Xymox, Dead Can Dance, VAST, Delerium, Front Line Assembly, BIS, and Depeche Mode. I also seem to have an unusual appreciation for Princess Superstar.

  5. Tell us a little about your role in the making of Fallout 1/2/3 (Van Buren)/Tactics ?

    Fallout 1 was an epic project. For the first several months, it was just me, alone in a room, working on an isometric engine based on hex coordinates and sprites with six rotations. Jason Anderson came on board to do art, and Jason Taylor to do scripting, and soon Fallout was off and running. I went from lead programmer to producer when Tom Decker, Fallout’s original producer, had too many other projects to supervise. Fallout really took off after the other leads were established, with Leonard Boyarsky as lead artist and Scott Campbell, followed by Chris Taylor, as lead designer. By the end of its three-and-a-half year run, Fallout had over thirty people dedicated to making it great, and while I contributed to the design and to the production, I really consider myself first and foremost a programmer of the game.

    Things were a little different on Fallout 2. I left before it was even a quarter of the way done, but I had written the basic story line and implemented a few of the programming changes before I left. The team members that remained and those that joined for Fallout 2 were all extremely talented, and Fallout 2 turned out great.

  6. What’s your favourite Fallout memory?

    I really enjoyed a lot of the humorous bugs that never made it into game. We had doors that ran away from the player when he opened them, and rocket launchers that fired people that ran to their target and blew up. But if you mean my favourite part of the final games, it’s a close call between the ending of Fallout 1 where you kill the Overseer and the scene in Fallout 2 where you travel back in time and accidentally break the water chip in Vault 13. Both are wonderful scenes, but very different emotionally.

  7. What specifically inspired Fallout for you? What were the biggest influences?

    I think for me, the biggest influences were old science fiction movies and books. Some examples were movies like “Them”, where radiation created giant ants that attacked towns and destroyed buildings and cars. A book example is “A Canticle for Leibowitz”, where monks in a post-nuclear-war abbey try to save civilization by carefully copying and recopying ancient scientific texts in the hopes that some day they would be useful again.

  8. Pop Culture played a big role in Fallout, what pop culture influences you?

    Music is a big influence to me, leading me to pick the ambient music that Mark Morgan based his Fallout music upon. I don’t watch modern movies very much, but I know they were a big influence on other members of the team, especially the artists.

  9. How was it to be a part of the Fallout team?

    The Fallout team was very special to me. It was my first time as a project leader, but more importantly, it was my first time on a big project with lots of people and a lot of resources. Even though I was nominally “in charge”, I relied heavily on my leads to make sure things got done and got done right. I loved the experience, and I’ll never forget it. Nothing has been quite the same as that first big game.

  10. Were there things that you wished you had added to either Fallouts?

    I wish we had had more time to add some more varied followers in Fallout 1, and there was sinister subplot about the real purpose of the vaults that I wish had been kept in Fallout 2, but really these are minor things. The games stand up well on their own.

  11. What were you favourite places in fallout and why?

    I liked Necropolis the best in Fallout 1, because it was creepy and had good music and dialog in it. In Fallout 2, I liked the Den the most, for nostalgic reasons. I worked the most in that area before I left Interplay.

  12. What is your hope for future Fallout games? Would you like to be a part of a future Fo team?

    I hope Fallout can be continued as an RPG series. Action and strategy spin-offs are OK, but the best explorations of the themes of the Fallout universe will be in done in a true RPG. With that said, the graphics can certainly be improved, along with character and environmental interaction, and some game system improvements as well. And yes, I’d like to be a part of that improvement.

  13. Who would you bring with you in a future Fallout team and why?

    I’d have to have Leonard Boyarsky and Jason Anderson with me again, and I’d like to work with much of the original team again. We had a great time, and I’d like to recreate that experience. With that said, many of the people who worked on Fallout 2 and Fallout 3 / Van Buren would be welcome, as well as people I have worked with at Troika. And I’ve always wanted to work on a game with the masterful Chris Avellone.

    Oh, and only Chris Taylor can write a Fallout manual.

  14. In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that every RPG should have?

    In a good RPG, you should be able to make a good variety of starting characters and then develop them in very different ways. Your choices should affect the game in meaningful ways, both in the ongoing game and in the ending you get. Of course, the game should be fun to play and easy to interact with, but that’s true for every genre of game.

  15. Where do you see computer RPGs going?

    Like every other genre, RPG’s are increasingly being developed as console games, so some of their complexity (and hence richness) is being lost in order to appeal to a broader spectrum of gamers. This change is understandable and even expected, but I feel eventually the pendulum will swing and we will see some classic RPG’s (and perhaps even adventure games) being developed again.

  16. How does the fan base hinder/help the projects that you’ve worked on?

    The fan base is great in keeping you true to the spirit of the work. Some of them spend more time thinking about the “rules of the Fallout universe” that we do. But sometimes, this can be a bad thing, especially when someone wants to change something and the fans hate it just because it is a change. Not everything in the first Fallout games was intended to be canon. There must be room for some innovation, as long as it is true to the spirit of the original games, if not the letter.

  17. When planning the story how do you go through the process of integrating themes and story with the constraints on software?

    We usually try to lay down some “do’s and don’ts” right at the beginning of the story development process. Even if some of the “don’ts” turn out to be possible later on, it’s not such a bad thing to spell out to your designers the constraints you expect them to work under. Some of them even seemed to like being given a box to play inside of.

  18. If you could make any computer game that you wanted, which would it be and why?

    This is a trick question for me, since I have already been given a blank slate not once but twice, first with Fallout and then with Arcanum. These both were opportunities to make brand new games – new engines, new role-playing systems, new universes, new everything. Of course, I’d love to get that opportunity again, but I could not predict what it would be any more than I could have predicted making Fallout or Arcanum before I actually made them.

  19. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    That’s tough to answer. My life seems to change in cycles of 4-6 years: college (4 years), grad school (4 years), Interplay (6 years), Troika (6 years). Hmm, it looks like I am due for a new cycle…

  20. Any last word to the Fallout fan base?

    I think Fallout has some of the most passionate fans I have ever met, and this makes working on future Fallout titles a scary but exhilarating thought. No matter what happens, I know Fallout 3 will eventually be made, and I hope it’s worthy of its name.