When invited to Bethesda for an exclusive little demonstration of Fallout 3 (you know, only about 100 different magazines and websites), we thought we'd make it a bit more personal. Tricking all the others into getting onto a bus ("There's free booze on the bus!") and then having them driven off into some ditch somewhere, we got to spend some alone-time with lead designer, Emil Pagliarulo, and lead producer, Gavin Carter.
Eurogamer: How do you approach developing a game, especially one with the infamy of Fallout, when none of your team was involved in the original development?
Gavin Carter: We treated a lot like we treat our own. We went back and played the old games, so played a lot of Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, to see what we wanted to bring over from those games, and to get our minds away from this medieval space [that of the Elder Scrolls games]. And we watched movies like Mad Max, read books like The Road, and started from square one.
Eurogamer: And that wasn't a bit difficult bearing in mind the legacy you were entering?
Gavin Carter: I don't know if I'd say difficult. We spent a whole lot of time on it - we like to give ourselves that space. We've been thinking about it for over three years, so what you've seen came about gradually. It's not easy, but I wouldn't say it's tremendously difficult for us.
Eurogamer: Emil, you previously worked for Looking Glass, right?
Emil Pagliarulo: Yes. I worked on Thief II, and designed the Life Of The Party level.
Eurogamer: That's the best level in the game! Running across the rooftops!
Emil Pagliarulo: Thank you!
Eurogamer: So how do you bring a Looking Glass background to a game like this?
Emil Pagliarulo: Looking Glass for me was very much my first time being thrown into the trenches. They have a tradition of really immersive first-person games. I watched the guys making System Shock - those are the kinds of games I identify with. I certainly honed [my] skills there. It's great for me to bring that here.
Eurogamer: What about the moral dimension of Looking Glass games? Does that permeate into the Fallout development?
Emil Pagliarulo: It does. One of the mantras of the Thief games is a big grey area. Garrett is the ultimate anti-hero. That's really important you know. If you want to play like that, we want to support that. As Todd [Howard, executive producer] mentioned, we originally started supporting good, and supporting evil, and we realised how important neutral was, and how viable of a gameplay path it is, and how many great games like the original Thief supported that. That's really important to me.
Eurogamer: With a background developing the Elder Scrolls games, but taking on an Interplay title, which legacy do you think Fallout 3 follows?
Emil Pagliarulo: Me personally, I really feel like we're making a game in the legacy of the Fallout games. It's so different than working with the Elder Scrolls stuff. It's first-person, and that's it. Actually it's interesting for me - it harkens back for me to some of the most enjoyable first-person games I've ever played, the Terminator games Bethesda made. Fallout 3 is Bethesda's triumphant return to gunplay games, after swords and sorcery for so long. For me it's about bringing back /that/ legacy.
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. The whole questing system is Fallout. There are different paths to all the quests, you can lock yourself out of quests. It's not like Oblivion where you can say, "I've just started in the Fighter's Guild, but I'm the Grey Fox." There's nothing in the game that we haven't looked at as its own thing.