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THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE END:

Posted on Friday, October 3 @ 18:33:22 Eastern by Chris_Hudak
Game Revolution’s pre-emptive strike with Pete Hines, Product Manager for Bethesda’s Fallout 3.

CHRIS HUDAK, GAME REVOLUTION: What has the anticipation level for F3 been like, particularly over the last year or so? Can you talk a bit about the interest levels from die-hard fans of the early games as compared/opposed to those of completely new, eager
players who only know about this newest incarnation of the Fallout universe?

PETE HINES, BETHESDA SOFTWORKS: It's been nice to see folks getting excited about the game as we get closer to launch. We don't really spend a lot of time dissecting what one person or group says or thinks from another. It's not like we're running back to our desks every time someone says something positive or negative to make sure we leave that feature in, or take it out, or change the way the game plays.

GR: It's hard to peg in a game-world this expansive and fleshed out, but, extensive side-quest noodling aside, what is the hours-of-gameplay estimate for Fallout 3?

PH: You're looking at around 20 to 25 for the main quest and at least 100 to do everything in the game. It's pretty damn big, there's a lot to see and do.

GR: Was the VATS system--as it is implemented in Fallout 3--originally a contentious point amongst the designers, or was it an obvious, popular approach/scheme from the outset? Did it pose any particular challenges or design issues? For that matter, did it automatically solve certain game-design issues?

PH: I think there was a lot of buy-in to what it was going to be, the tough part was figuring how to do it right. We spent a long, long time playing with it and tweaking it to keep making it better, more fun, more balanced. I think it is very close in spirit to our original idea but it took a lot of work along the way to make sure it wasn't a distraction, didn't ruin the flow of the game or make it too easy.

GR: What particular design philosophy, if any, did the dev team follow to 'reign themselves in', in terms of adding game-world detail upon game-world detail? Generally speaking, at what point do you have to tear yourself away from including all sorts of clever fan-service
side-quest/backstory/environmental polish detials, and just go about making a solid game?

PH: Well, usually our design philosophy is to try not to do everything, but then we usually end up doing that anyway. At a some point Todd and the producers start saying, "ok, enough is enough, we're full." You have to stop adding content at some point, but a lot of that comes from playing the game. Making sure the world feels dense enough, big enough. So there were things added along the way because we were trying to address issues that came up in playing the game and the way it felt.

GR: There's an anwful lot of decidedly-not-for-kids elements in F3--explicit/implicit gore, language, innuendo, and plain old black humor--would you say that the amount of this particularly adult-oriented content has increased somewhat (from the previous games) as a natural result of the series' continued expansion into a more sophisticated console/market?

PH: I don't think it's increased from the previous games, especially if you go back and look at what the original Fallouts did compared to other games of that time. They were decidedly mature and violent and we felt it was important to stay true to those themes. Because it's now in 1st and 3rd person, it may make it more vibrant than before, but not markedly different.

GR: Are we *still* not 'officially' commenting on the Australia ban thing? Dude, seriously--talk a little about this, if you would.

PH: We had added a new chem to Fallout 3 and had given it a real-world name, Morphine. Questions were raised about the use of that real-world drug, not only in Australia, but other territories as well. The chems in the original Fallout used fictional names...Buffout, Jet, Rad-X, etc. Those all appear in Fallout 3 in exactly the same way as before. We decided there was no reason it needed to be named Morphine and it should be a fictional name like the other chems, so we changed it to "Med-X". That's all there was to it, there was nothing else that needed addressing.

GR: Every time any high-profile, halfway-'edgy' game is set to come out, some stick-up-the-ass individual/organization/politician/'parents' group'/regional market somewhere starts bitching--aside from the aforementioned Austrailians, has the forthcoming release of Fallout 3 been raising anybody's watchdog-hackles, in partcular? Here's your chance to name names and vent!

PH: We aren't done yet so I'm sure we'll be hearing from some folks before this is all said and done.

GR: Can you talk a little about the work and prep that went into rendering believable post-apocalyptic environs based in and near Washington, D.C?

PH: A lot of research went into figuring out what buildings in DC would have existed in the Fallout universe, since that world splits off from the world we know after WWII. So you'll see landmarks you may recognize, and a number of things you won't because they're unique to the Fallout world. Our artists spent a lot of time figuring out how to incorporate the design influences of that period with the buildings they created so that it feels both familiar and slightly "off" at the same time.

GR: One of the key appeal-points of the Fallout 'verse is the thorough, tongue-in-cheek, meticulously-rendered, deliberately naive/cheesy post-50's 'duck and cover' style, tech-level and general mindset--can you give us a few thoughts, observations or quotes on this from the design team?

PH It's something we spent a lot of time trying to make sure we did "right." We find that in many games, intentional humor doesn't always work well. We're not big fans of "jokes." Instead we wanted the humor to come from the kinds of places it did in the original game, a response you get in talking to someone you didn't expect, finding something totally unexpected, seeing some of that pre-war nostalgia in advertisements throughout the world...those kinds of things. You've got to have some lighthearted moments mixed in with all the depressing destruction everywhere, otherwise it's just too much of a downer.



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