Yeah, another early post because weather is threatening again. So good thing I found something to write about. In this case, it’s an interview with Fallout 3 lead designer, Emil Pagliarulo, and lead producer, Gavin Carter.

EG asked good questions. Some of the responses, though, gave me a few trickles down my spine, and I’m wondering what this game is really going to be like.

Keep in mind I’m highlighting some of the replies here; for the complete responses, you have to read the complete interview.

Eurogamer: With a background developing the Elder Scrolls games, but taking on an Interplay title, which legacy do you think Fallout 3 follows?

Gavin Carter: I feel like when people see it’s first-person they’re going to say, “Oh, there’s Oblivion. It’s Oblivion with guns.” But honestly there’s not a single thing we didn’t look at and think, how are we going to do this for Fallout? We stripped out our entire character system. It’s all Fallout now, with specials and experience, it’s not skill based.

Not skill-based? The original FOs were all about skills and stats, and how they worked together. If it’s not skill-based, what is it then?

Then we have this little gem:

Eurogamer: Do you feel like you owe Interplay anything?

Emil Pagliarulo: You can’t. You can’t proceed feeling that way. It’s like, you also can’t proceed feeling like you owe the fans of Fallout anything, you can’t feel bad that you’re not making a turn-based isometric game.

Gavin Carter: We have a great deal of respect for those guys, but what we don’t want to do is open up our entire design to someone outside the company who doesn’t really get the culture here. For better or worse it’s been ten years since the last game came out. We’re very strict on authorial control. We don’t want to bring someone in from outside and then only implement their ideas in a half-assed way. We have a vision for the game and we’re taking it all the way through.

Aha. Of course, let’s not owe anything to Interplay. They just made the first two games. And let’s not bother about the fans, either. They’re just a niche group, right? Great slap in the face there, Emil.

As for Gavin, I’m not sure what he means by “not opening the design to someone outside the company”. Maybe it refers to not taking on any of the originals who worked on the first two games? And what does “culture” have to do with it?

Then EG asks about the relationship between your father and your character. The game has a “prequel”, where you go through growing up in the vault, choosing your stats and abilities. This is much like Oblivion‘s “escape from prison with the Emperor”.

Presumably, this is also meant as a bonding segment with your father, so you’ll care about him and what happened to make him disappear. So Eurogamer asks:

Eurogamer: Does that relationship impact on the moral dimensions of the game?

Gavin Carter: To an extent. A large part of the game is spent with him absent, so a lot of stuff happens outside of that relationship. We wanted the relationship as a central point of the plot, so we don’t want you to be able to say, piss off your dad and ruin the plot.

I see. The relationship is central to the game, but much of what you’ll be doing happens outside that relationship. Hmmm. Kinda reminds me of Baldur’s Gate 2, where you spent most of the game trying to get Imoen back.

Except in that game – at least if you’d played the first one – you had developed a real relationship with Imoen, and a real desire to rescue her. This FO3 business sounds a bit forced and phony to me.

And then there’s that “we don’t want you to…ruin the plot”, when we have following on a question about how much player choice there is in the game:

Eurogamer: How does such freedom affect the game?

Gavin Carter: We don’t want to just lock them out and say, “You have to go down this path, that’s the only way.” We have to handle everything the player’s going to do. We’re experienced with that because we do it in Oblivion.

Okay, so you have all this freedom, but we can’t let you make Daddy angry. That would just ruin our story. As for “doing it in Oblivion“, thats a laugh.

The main line is lockstep linear. There is only one way to go. As for those sideline gofer quests, what did it matter if you did them or not? I wouldn’t point to Oblivion as a game where choice mattered a whole lot.

The interview closes out with the matter of violence. The original games allowed you to control the mess, the on-screen blood and body parts.

Eurogamer: Fallout 3 shows a joy for violence, but that seems almost in conflict with the good/neutral/evil divide. If you choose to play good, do you play a less violent game, or is it righteous violence?

Gavin Carter: You have to decide for yourself. Is shooting mutants something my character is going to do? In some ways we’ll provide non-lethal combat options, but a big part of this game is the incredible level of violence. It’s something people find a lot of fun, so it’s not something we’re going to back off from. The old Fallout had a slider for violence, you could turn it down if you wanted. We joked that on our options we were going to have one, but it would be taped in place at the max.

The incredible level of violence? Yeah I know, some players did have the gore set on maximum, but not everyone. I certainly didn’t. It seems from that response, they won’t have a violence setting.

If FO3 doesn’t allow for that, I’m not touching it. In a time when gaming is under fire for its violence (but more especially, the mess of violence), not allowing choice in this matter is just plain stupid. That’s not even considering taking choice out of the player’s hands here.

Overall, this interview has made me feel distinctly uneasy about Fallout 3. There are many, many previews out there now, but I haven’t looked at them, because they are previews.

As usual, I’ll wait for the final (or final plus patches) product to show up on the shelves and comments, etc. on the ‘net. But at this moment, I am not sanguine at all.

Before commenting, do follow the link and read the whole thing.

Fallout 3 interview on Eurogamer