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As part of the Fallout 25th Anniversary, the Fallout Wiki celebrates by organizing roundtables with some of the most prominent original developers. The first of these Fallout at 25 Fallout Wiki roundtables took place on October 23, 2022, and hosted Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain. Jason Taylor was invited, but could not attend, and provided us with answers to several questions posted by us. The transcript of the roundtable (Discord tags of the devs redacted for privacy) are below, together with the answers they provided.

Questions[]

Tim Cain[]

Transcript

Q: Was Fallout at any point going to be real-time like Diablo or real-time with pause? Or was it always designed with turn-based combat in mind?

A: Fallout was always designed to be turn based. At one point, when Diablo had shipped and several higher-ups at Interplay were enamored with the game (or its sales figures), we were asked to consider a real time version. The projected time and money costs to change the design persuaded them that it was bad idea.


Q: Did you have the idea of the GECK while developing Fallout 1 or is that a later idea the game during the conception of Fallout 2?

A: The GECK was conceived during Fallout 1's development. The proof? Page 5-34 of the manual for Fallout 1.


Q: Do you remember who came up with Nuka-Cola and why it was named as such (not wanting to tangle with the world's biggest soft drink corporation aside)?

A: It was either Chris Taylor or Scott Campbell. And only they can reveal the secret behind its name.


Q: In the Building a Better RPG talk, post-mortem part you said that your past games (like the OG Fallouts and Arcanum I assume) had systems that were too complex and that it was okay to simplify or change them. Would you go back and redo Fallout with that in mind? What is your philosophy when designing?

A: I don't think I would simplify Fallout's systems. In fact, I think they have been oversimplified in recent games, but I would consider simplifying their presentation. I would keep skills and traits, but I would change character creation and advancement to make it more casual friendly. This might seem like splitting hairs, but I believe that initial presentation is a huge part of onboarding players to your IP. It's possible to make rich and deep system mechanics without throwing a page of numbers at the player early in the character creation process, when many players have no idea of what character they want to make or what traits/skills/perks are important. As I showed in The Outer Worlds with skills, you can delay some decisions until the player has experienced the game and decided what they would like to explore in terms of player characteristics.


Q: When you created Fallout, did you view humanity from a cynical or hopeful perspective? On one side, the game has raiders and plenty of human flaws, besides nuclear war. On the other, humanity perseveres in the face of adversity, and changes, and tries to break the cycle through the Master/NCR/Brotherhood.

A: Fallout represents many viewpoints. Some people on the team were cynical and liked to explore the darker side of human nature, while others were optimistic and hopeful that people would emerge from a cataclysmic event with a desire to make sure it never happened again. I always liked that Fallout showed that blend of perspectives.


Q: What were some setting ideas/content/artwork you considered for Fallout, but never publicly talked about or revealed publicly?

A: We always wanted an equivalent to GURPS disadvantages in Fallout, but the closest we could come were traits, which were a blend of advantages and disadvantages. I eventually made flaws in The Outer Worlds.


Q: Did you establish that the Fallout timeline diverged from ours during Fallout's development? If so, did you establish when it more or less occurred (i.e. the timeline went in the Fallout direction and the transistor never caught on etc.?

A: We always thought there was a divergence, but we never thought it was a single event where the timeline diverged, i.e. the invention of the transistor. Instead, Fallout represented a future that the 1950s thought might happen.


Q: Fallout was originally a sequel to Wasteland (according to Campbell) and many references remain in it. Did you see it as feasible to integrate it into the Fallout series, or at least made Fallout compatible with it?

A: We made Fallout with ideas that were independent of Wasteland. It might be possible to merge the two, but I would always wonder what the point was. Why are you trying to force these two disparate IPs together?


Q: Do you remember why the Jackals and Vipers were cut? Were there any plans to involve them in the later development stages, or were they cut early on?

A: I am not sure, but they seemed to be included as background information for characters like Ian. They weren't cut as much as they weren't explored.


Q: Were there any notable technical limitations, where the creative solution became an important part of the game's identity?

A: So many. We explored making Fallout a 3D game, but the limitations of 3D games at the time pushed us back to an isometric game. Similar technical issues removed height features from the game. I am not sure what people consider part of the game's identity, but we surely wrestled with technical limitations.


Q: What is the one question you never get asked but wish it was?

A: Why are you so awesome? :)

No, seriously, fans have asked some very insightful questions over the years. Some of our answers have been "I don't know. We just kind of went with our gut feelings on that." I know it's not what people want to hear, but it's true.

Leonard Boyarsky[]

Transcript

Q: What were some of the setting ideas you considered for Fallout, but never talked about publicly?
A: I think we’ve talked about all of them publicly at this point

Q: What would you name the aesthetic design of Fallout 1 and 2? No, it can't just be called "Fallout style".
A: I originally called it retro future fifties, I think, but the kids call it atompunk these days :P

Q: What were the rules made regarding what did and did not fit Fallout's art style?
A: We were very loose with our rules, especially since we started out as a non-retro fifties Road Warrior-centric inspired RPG. We also had to work with what we had in terms of time and budget, so we were a lot more flexible about what fit the setting than we would be now

Q: Does the original artwork that you made (especially the unplugged television) still exist in a higher quality medium than what comes with the CD? If yes, will there ever be a book that is the Art of Fallout?
A: I don’t know if the original 3d art files exist anywhere, and, if they did, what would have to be done to use them since they were made in PowerAnimator on Unix SGI machines. I have some of my original sketches in a sketchbook, but that’s about it. I wish I knew what happened to the clay heads, though, I made the Overseer’s and would love to have been able to keep it

Q: What's the significance of the giant heads all over Fallout? Is it just Art Deco or something more eldritch/mysterious?
A: We just thought they looked cool

Q: I know that the talking heads were made with clay models and then digitized. Were the overworld sprites clay models too?
A: The only other clay model was the Deathclaw, everything else was modeled in 3d programs

Q: Many of Fallout's inspirations are worn on its sleeves, Mad Max, for instance, but are there any sources of inspiration which do not get enough love? A reference that you hoped everyone would pick up, but nobody did?
A: The Hard-Boiled comic book mini-series by Frank Miller and Geoff Darrow and the City of Lost Children movie

Q: Were there any notable technical limitations, where the creative solution became an important part of the game's identity? Specifically in terms of artwork.
A: The whole reason the intro was on a TV was so that we could add noise and have a reason for any people to be fairly small in the frame but still have impact due to the difficulty of making realistic human beings back then. Also the reason for the clay heads. We also used the pixelization that was inherent in the color palleting process to make everything look dirty, which I was always very proud of but no one noticed...

Q: Did you ever elaborate on your idea of the commonwealths? Tim Cain mentioned you came up with the idea while designing the alternate US flag (which DOES look cool and distinct), but did anything come out of it?
A: Not that I remember

Q: What's the one question you are never asked, but would like to be asked?
A: I can’t think of any offhand (I’ve done a lot of FO interviews over the years 😝). If I think of any I’ll bring them up during the chat

Jason Taylor[]

Transcript

Q: What is the one thing you are particularly proud of in Fallout, but never seem to get proper credit for?
A: When working on the original design we had quite a few brainstorming sessions. I remember coming up with these ideas: suggested game tile: Vault 13, reason to leave the vault: faulty "water purification chip", source of mutations: genetically engineered virus call FEV (Forced Evolutionary Virus)

Q: Were there any notable technical limitations, where the creative solution became an important part of the game's identity? Or any other solutions that involved non-obvious resolves?
A: Because we started out with the GURPS ruleset, we necessarily had hex-based maps. I don't know of any other CRPGs that did that.

Q: Many of Fallout's inspirations are worn on its sleeves, Mad Max, for instance, but are there any sources of inspiration which do not get enough love?
A: Brotherhood of Steel (designed by Scott Campbell) always felt like a nod to Pure Strain Humans in Gamma World. Ask him though!

Q: Fallout was originally a sequel to Wasteland (according to Campbell) and many references remain in it. Did you see it as feasible to integrate it into the Fallout series, or at least made Fallout compatible with it?
A: My understanding was Interplay did not have the copyright to Wasteland, and we weren't willing to pay for it, so we had to be careful to "not be too close to it and get sued".

Q: What is the one question you never get asked, but wish it was?
A: I'm not as famous as others, so I never get asked anything. :) So I would like to be asked, "What did you work on?" After Tim Cain I was the first member of the team, joining as Lead Scriptor. Because there was nothing to script (because we didn't yet have a game engine), I designed and coded a number of foundational data structures used by engine/map editor (e.g. 6 different types of map objects). Also, I wrote a number of tools including Framer, which imported Maya-rendered GIFs, allowed you to adjust offsets and animation speed, and exported .frm files containing animation and game data.

Roundtable[]

The roundtable took place on October 23, 2022, between 6 and 8 PM PDT; the organizer
Transcript

Tagaziel (08:56 PM): We would like to welcome our guest @Developers, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, to the server (and also to ensure they can see this channel and nothing is broken too much)!
Tim Cain (06:00 PM): I am up and running
Leonard Boyarsky (06:00 PM): Me too
Tagaziel (06:03 PM): Alright, so without further ado: Hello and welcome to the Fallout at 25 roundtable with the Fallout Wiki! Today we're hosting two very special guests, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, who were part of the six original designers who created the Fallout and kickstarted the series we all know and love. If you need a refresher on who they are, hop on to the wiki for a quick refresher! https://fallout.fandom.com/wiki/Timothy_Cain https://fallout.fandom.com/wiki/Leonard_Boyarsky The rules today are simple: 1. We have two hours blocked out for this roundtable, more is up to our guests. 2. Ask questions in #dev-questions, so that we can keep easier track of them! 3. Be nice to everyone. Slowmode is enabled to help ensure niceness. 4. It'd be great to limit questions to Fallout, even if Tim and Leonard were also involved with beloved Arcanum (unless they feel like answering them of course).
Agent c (06:03 PM): @here we are startin the roundtable now
Tagaziel (06:05 PM): So, @Tim Cain, @LeonB welcome! Thank you for accepting the invitation and putting up with fans for the past quarter of a century. To kick things off, a little question: Did you ever expect that Fallout would become this big and what started in 1994/1995 would bloom into, well, a multi-million dollar franchise and a troop of very dedicated fans?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:05 PM): Yes and no
Leonard Boyarsky (06:06 PM): I thought we'd be more popular than we were when we shipped, but never as big as it has gotten
Tim Cain (06:06 PM): Thank you, it's great to be here. And for myself, no. It's been surreal that Fallout got so huge and the fans so numerous.
Tim Cain (06:07 PM): I appreciate them all!
Leonard Boyarsky (06:07 PM): What Tim said
Leonard Boyarsky (06:07 PM): It's great that FO has such passionate fans
Tagaziel (06:08 PM): Iver Drew asked an interesting, brain-probing question: What major geographical changes, if any, were planned for the New California area that couldn't be shown due to the limitations of the technologies of the era? I can add that one of the more fascinating was the Orange County turned into Orange Coastal Lake by what seemed to be a giant nuke.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:10 PM): I don't know that we ever considered any, we weren't paying that close attention to actual geography in FO1, we only had different tilesets to use and we also made a few custom things.
Tagaziel (06:11 PM): Is that why Bakersfield got moved to, well, not-Bakersfield?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:12 PM): FO 1 was based on Southern California, but we weren't tracking it closely. I remember at one point Jason Anderson and I realized that you were sent from central California to around San Diego for one quest. Walking.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:12 PM): The Vault definitely ran out of water
Tim Cain (06:12 PM): I know we had planned to make a ruined Interplay building, complete with a skeleton in the lobby who was trapped when the door fobs stopped working
Leonard Boyarsky (06:13 PM): That was supposed to be Bill Duggan, wasnit it?
Tim Cain (06:13 PM): Yes!
Tagaziel (06:14 PM): That'd explain why he'd be missing from his office in Needles.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:14 PM): We were having too good a time 🙂
Tagaziel (06:16 PM): Scott Campbell explained why the USSR wasn't the foil for the US in this reality, but when making the original designs, did you consider what role it could have played? There's a Soviet diplomat's descendant in Vault 13, and that always felt like an interesting, enemy-of-my-enemy twist.
Tim Cain (06:18 PM): We had always planned for the USSR to have its own cold war propaganda going on inside its borders, which reflected what their 1950s citizens thought their future would be. It would be a dark yet funny mirror for the US version you see in Fallout
Tagaziel (06:20 PM): So the rule of thumb for the world in general would be 1950s, but taken forwards?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:20 PM): It was the 1950's idealized future that the corps were selling
Leonard Boyarsky (06:20 PM): So not the real 50's
Tim Cain (06:20 PM): Generally, yes. At least for the big powers, like the US, USSR and China.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:21 PM): But the only info that is in the game is the propaganda from the corps, so who knows how dark it actually was even before the bombs fell?
Tim Cain (06:22 PM): (I lean towards it was really dark)
Leonard Boyarsky (06:23 PM): 🙂
Leonard Boyarsky (06:24 PM): I thought I was supposed to be the dark on, Tim
Tagaziel (06:24 PM): Which segues into an interesting question: The society. A certain extremist recently made headlines with his mod, trying to remove all people of color from Fallout 4, because he was convinced that civil rights movements never materialized in the series - which is obviously at odds with what the games show, tell, and portray. 1950s aesthetics, yes, but the social attitudes far less so?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:25 PM): Everyone is equal when society collapses
Tagaziel (06:26 PM): Another question getting a lot of traffic, and it's in the Whodunnit category, but let's make an exception: Who came up with Followers of the Apocalypse? Is this some kind of reference?
Tim Cain (06:27 PM): I think (and remember, it's been a quarter of a century) that it was Scott Campbell.
Tagaziel (06:27 PM): (general idea, art assets, dialogue, anything you remember, don't have to be a single person :))
Leonard Boyarsky (06:27 PM): Tim can probably give more details, but wasn't that a reference to Wasteland?
Tim Cain (06:27 PM): It could be. Or even Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:27 PM): Hah
Tim Cain (06:28 PM): There was a lot of creative churning going on
Leonard Boyarsky (06:28 PM): Jason Anderson, Gary Platner and I came up with a lot of the looks for the whole game
Leonard Boyarsky (06:28 PM): I'm pretty sure Jason designed their logo
Tim Cain (06:29 PM): I made a lot of code, especially the crashy parts and whenever Ian would shoot you in the back
Leonard Boyarsky (06:30 PM): As Tim said, a lot of creative churn
Tagaziel (06:30 PM): Don't tell us that was deliberate, the back-shooting.
Tim Cain (06:31 PM): No, but Ian and the other followers were using AI code written for enemies and quickly/poorly adapted for follower use. They were not planned for.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:31 PM): We were in the office for most of our waking hours. I personally was drinking pots of coffee at the time. Sleep deprivations is probably where a lot of our deranged humor came from
Tagaziel (06:32 PM): Including the exploding head?
Tim Cain (06:32 PM): Let me remaster Fallout 1, and I could fix that all quickly
Tim Cain (06:32 PM): Chris Jones added that head. Well, my head.
Tagaziel (06:33 PM): Is there a bigger story behind it?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:33 PM): But would FO really be FO without Ian shooting you in the back?
Tagaziel (06:33 PM): He never shot me in the back personally. Now, blocking the exit...
Tagaziel (06:34 PM): Also: Question: Regarding the idea of "corps", very few corporations were actually shown in Fallout 1 and 2's world, with the biggest ones mentioned being RobCo and General Atomics, who wouldn't be expanded on until later on in the series. Is that a cyberpunk influence? A reference to the historic, massive growth of corporations in the WW2/post-war era? And specifically for @LeonB did you work on the signage? We've been trying to get a clear shot of Poseidon Gasoline for a while.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:34 PM): I think pushing companions out of the way was one of the first things Tim fixed for FO2
Tim Cain (06:34 PM): Chris hid it in the credits, but I found it because it was controlled by code, which I was working on all the time. I said it could stay, but he went and added my head to the Large size game icon as well, so I could still be surprised after the game launched
Leonard Boyarsky (06:34 PM): Don't forget Vault-Tec
Tagaziel (06:34 PM): Nobody could predict that would become the default in a few years xD
Leonard Boyarsky (06:35 PM): I worked on a lot of the signage, I think Platner did the Poseidon Gas
Leonard Boyarsky (06:35 PM): I did the Pip Boy logo
Tim Cain (06:36 PM): The name General Atomics is from stories by Robert Heinlein, and RobCo was because they were robbing you
Tagaziel (06:36 PM): Wait, really?
Tagaziel (06:36 PM): Not because they were working on robots?
bleep196 (06:37 PM): No it's kind of in the subtext that they are literally scamming you
Tim Cain (06:37 PM): I am pretty sure the robbing angle came first, and them making robots was second
Leonard Boyarsky (06:37 PM): Cyberpunk wasn't really a huge influence besides Blade Runner
Tim Cain (06:38 PM): And Blade Runner was for its art aesthetic and not for its replicants
Leonard Boyarsky (06:38 PM): Yep
Tagaziel (06:39 PM): The Necropolis/intro vista does have that ring to it. Now, from @CBO0tz🍋 (while we're talking about setting): Here's a question since I just happen to be planning a Fallout ttrpg campaign set in it - do you think Oklahoma, or any of the more rural parts of the US could be interesting locations for a Fallout setting?
Tim Cain (06:40 PM): Oh yeah! I would like to have explored rural and suburban areas more, and go outside the US too. So much to see and explore outside of US cities.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:41 PM): I think anywhere could be. At least in FO1 and 2, it was much more about what the survivors were building out of the rubble of the past
Leonard Boyarsky (06:41 PM): Of course, a lot of that was dictated by art and tech limitations
Tim Cain (06:41 PM): Imagine the monsters in radioactive Kansas...
Tim Cain (06:42 PM): "Oh no, Toto, I think we're still in Kansas"
Leonard Boyarsky (06:42 PM): Quadruple headed Bramin
Tagaziel (06:42 PM): Udderoctopus, you mean
Leonard Boyarsky (06:43 PM): Exactly
bleep196 (06:43 PM): Radioactive tornadoes. and you thought the glowing sea was bad
Tagaziel (06:43 PM): Here's another highly upvoted question: Have you ever heard of a mod called "Old World Blues" for a game called Hearts of Iron IV? If yes, did you play it? Did you ever play any fan conversions/mods, actually?
Tim Cain (06:44 PM): I have not, myself
Leonard Boyarsky (06:44 PM): I have not. I have played the Old World Blues DLC, though...
Agent c (06:44 PM): (And on that, are you aware of fan remaster projects like Vault 13 and New arroyo)
Tagaziel (06:45 PM): (and that "are you going to remaster Fallout" was one of the most highly asked questions in the submissions)
Leonard Boyarsky (06:45 PM): I'm not sure I've seen the remaster ones, but I've seen a lot of the attempts to make FO 1 in the FO 3 engine (and others)
Tim Cain (06:45 PM): I have seen some fan projects, like Fallout 1 done first person, or Fallout 1 in Fallout 2's engine (I think that was one)
Leonard Boyarsky (06:45 PM): At least your companions wouldn't block doors anymore...
Tim Cain (06:46 PM): We have no rights to remaster Fallout 1. That's a question for Bethesda/Microsoft
Tagaziel (06:46 PM): Even with the acquisition by MGS, the inter-company relations remain a legal minefield.
Tim Cain (06:47 PM): I remain cautiously optimistic
Tagaziel (06:47 PM): If you had to distill Fallout into its core elements (say, three), the foundations of what makes Fallout, Fallout, what would it be?
Aiden4017 (06:48 PM): What are you're thoughts then on the mod remaking Fallout 1 in Fallout 4's engine?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:48 PM): Ability to (role) play the game in any way you want, the dark humor, the retro future setting
Agent c (06:49 PM): (For anyone interested in that mod, you can find more in our September Podcast where we interview the led developers)
Leonard Boyarsky (06:49 PM): I would love to see them finish that
Leonard Boyarsky (06:49 PM): Would be fun to play
Agent c (06:50 PM): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kElU212_Elo
Tim Cain (06:50 PM): Fallout is its dark and humorous core aesthetic (in art, dialog, setting, everything), the ability to play a character you make in any way you like, and to have the game react to that.
bleep196 (06:50 PM): In general, how do you feel about Fallout: New Vegas, it's story and characters. Does it capture the spirit of what you intended with Fallout 1 and 2?
Tim Cain (06:52 PM): Yes. FNV comes closest to Fallout that I have seen in a Fallout that I didn't work on. Josh Sawyer gets it.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:52 PM): I would agree
Tim Cain (06:52 PM): I have played it multiple times with different characters. The DLC's too.
Tim Cain (06:52 PM): I wish it had dumb dialog though
bleep196 (06:53 PM): Well that's what Wild Wasteland is for
bleep196 (06:53 PM): :p
Tim Cain (06:53 PM): But I guess they didn't have me to pattern it after
Leonard Boyarsky (06:53 PM): Though I still think the Old World Blues DLC is probably my favorite FO thing I didn't work on
bleep196 (06:53 PM): There is some really fun dialogue in it.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:54 PM): Probably just because of the inclusion of mine and Jason's Lobotomites
Tim Cain (06:54 PM): It's a good addition to Fallout-verse
Leonard Boyarsky (06:54 PM): The humor was spot on
Tagaziel (06:54 PM): I always wondered what that renegade Brotherhood soldier was doing.
Tagaziel (06:54 PM): To come upon the Vault dweller like that, with that comically undersized pistol.
Leonard Boyarsky (06:54 PM): That was part of the original FO 2 pitch Jason and I came up with
Tagaziel (06:55 PM): For those who don't recall the Fo1 loading screen offhand
Leonard Boyarsky (06:55 PM): I like the painted version better
Tagaziel (06:55 PM): Was it the one with the supermutant/Brotherhood land fortress?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:56 PM): It was a mobile fortress if I recall correctly (it's been a while)
Leonard Boyarsky (06:56 PM): Much like our trying to name FO Vault 13, it would have been great for the game but lousy for a continuing IP
Leonard Boyarsky (06:56 PM): The pitch, I mean
Tagaziel (06:57 PM): Were there other rejected names?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:57 PM): Not that I remember
Tagaziel (06:58 PM): (fun fact: Die Hard was translated in Polish as Szklana Pułapka, or Glass Trap, referencing Nakatomi Plaza; illustrating Leon's issue with overly specific naming; they kept calling the subsequent titles that in Polish)
Tim Cain (06:58 PM): I used to tell other producers that I was working on "that rad game"
bleep196 (06:58 PM): In your opinions... who started the great war? USA, China, Vault Tech, The Enclave?
Agent c (06:58 PM): (and does it matter?)
Leonard Boyarsky (06:59 PM): I was going to say I don't think it matters
Tim Cain (06:59 PM): Depends on your definition of "start". China launched the first missile, but the US was doing illegal biotech research and kept doing it after being exposed. And then there's Canada...
Tagaziel (06:59 PM): A very interesting and serious question that's also important to me, personally. Fallout was one of the first games to feature LGBTQ+ content in any capacity, and in 1998 it became the first series in the West to feature same-sex marriage. It also has a noted trans community, including some of our wiki readers and editors. Any thoughts on that? Furthermore, it has become one of the most beloved titles/series in Eastern Europe, which is something I'm not sure you could ever expect. Any thoughs on that too?
Leonard Boyarsky (06:59 PM): It's always the Canadians starting wars
Tagaziel (07:00 PM): https://fallout.fandom.com/wiki/LGBT_representation_in_the_Fallout_series For a quick summary. It may be that we missed it in Fo1.
Aiden4017 (07:00 PM): I know Bethesda said China started it in Fallout 4, but I agree that it works better unanswered.
bleep196 (07:00 PM): (Insert New Vegas to Trans pipeline memes)
Tim Cain (07:01 PM): I'm really happy that LGBTQ+ fans like our games and see themselves in them. The industry was quite conservative in the 80s and 90s, but we tried to get all kinds of inclusivity in there
Savior DJ (07:01 PM): When it comes to the pre-war backstory of the series, most of the relatively limited exposition in the first game comes from the abandoned facilities of The Glow and Mariposa Military Base, giving hints of a dark past. Was it a focal point of the writing to focus more on detailing the new world than explaining the old?
Leonard Boyarsky (07:02 PM): That wasn't planned, but it made sense to mostly focus on the current world
Leonard Boyarsky (07:03 PM): We didn't even come up with the idea of the vault experiments until we started making FO2
Tim Cain (07:03 PM): I think we left exposition to the people who wanted to search for it. We didn't want the game to be overly text heavy for people who did not want that. Environmental story telling can be powerful too
Leonard Boyarsky (07:05 PM): It's funny that a lot of what we did by accident/on the spur of the moment because we thought it felt like the right way to go turned into how we made games for the next 25 years
Leonard Boyarsky (07:05 PM): At least when we were working on RPGs together
Tagaziel (07:05 PM): Every rock has a story! Regarding the Vault Experiments, it's interesting how good the game segues in with Fallout 1 - and there's even a character, Viola, who warns the Vault Dweller that the wasteland must unite itself under the Children's banner, before the "Vaults unite their own forces" - accidental foreshadowing that suggests that the Master was right, though using disagreeable means.
Tagaziel (07:06 PM): "Look at the people who caused the Apocalypse! They didn't believe in peace and unity, and look what they did to us! Unity is the only way to prevent this from happening again, and Unity must happen NOW, before the other Vaults around the world have a chance to muster their forces."
bleep196 (07:06 PM): What are your thoughts on the planned story for Van Buren that was used as inspiration for many elements in New Vegas?
Leonard Boyarsky (07:07 PM): Even though we didn't delve into backstories and history as much as we might now (for ourselves, not to put in the game as exposition), we were always thinking about the characters and groups as real people with logical (to them) motivations
Leonard Boyarsky (07:08 PM): A lot of things (like being kicked out of the vault) just came out of those unintentional seeds
Tim Cain (07:08 PM): I am not familiar with VB's story. When Interplay was making it, we were being crushed under the weight of developing games at Troika
Tagaziel (07:09 PM): And still managed to create some of the most beloved titles in gaming history (Arcanum for me). But that's an aside. 🙂
Leonard Boyarsky (07:09 PM): Thanks, that's nice to hear
Tagaziel (07:10 PM): I have a print of the map and a huge file that served as basis for it, stitched out of in-game assets. Love that thing.
Aiden4017 (07:12 PM): On a different note, we've been having a lot of questions about the idea of the US being divided into 13 commonwealths, and why. In the Fallout Bible Tim, you said that it was Leon's idea to use a 13 star US flag, and had an idea for 13 super states, but didn't finish it.
Tagaziel (07:13 PM): (this was answered in #cool-stuff)
Aiden4017 (07:13 PM): My bad. Poor internet.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:13 PM): I picked that flag because it looked cool
Leonard Boyarsky (07:13 PM): I'd never seen it before
Tagaziel (07:14 PM): Which is a guiding principle for a lot of great choices, that gut feeling.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:14 PM): Definitely
Tim Cain (07:15 PM): Not to backtrack too much, but did I find a note from our marketing dept with two suggestions for a name for the game: "No Man's Land" and "The Deathlands". We politely declined.
Tagaziel (07:15 PM): To elaborate a bit: A lot of fans seem to believe that everything was pre-written and pre-made, and you just rotely executed that brilliant design. As I understand it, it was closer to how Deus Ex was made, with plenty of gut feelings and bold work with the box cutters to remove what didn't work (Warren Spector mentioned cutting a 500 page design bible to just 270 pages)?
Leonard Boyarsky (07:17 PM): We didn't have a huge design bible, per say. Not to the detail level it sounds like he was talking about
Leonard Boyarsky (07:17 PM): We were flying by the seat of our pants
Tim Cain (07:18 PM): I remember when I was asked for a vision statement for the game. I was surprised because the team KNEW what we were making. Then I was told it was for admin and marketing. I tried twice and failed twice, then Chris Taylor wrote an amazing one.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:19 PM): Certain aspects of game dev never change - no matter how carefully you think you're scoping you always have to cut content and stitch what's left back together
Tagaziel (07:20 PM): Speaking of content that wasn't cut: An interesting question comes up from time to time, that is, when implementing special encounters (aliens, the police call box, dinosaur footprint), did you ever consider them as anything beyond a cool little Easter egg? A more direct part of the story?
Tim Cain (07:22 PM): No, I don't think so. Special encounters were tied to luck and meant to be fun and a potential source for cool items. No story elements, since they might never be encountered by some players.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:22 PM): Mostly we made those because we thought they were funny
Tagaziel (07:22 PM): (and they were, plus the increased critical chance is awesome)
Tim Cain (07:22 PM): Although it would have been funny to comvince the Master to give up his plans using a velvet Elvis painting as a bribe
Tagaziel (07:24 PM): Speaking of the Master, he (it?) seems to have gone through many iterations. The Vault 13 timeline suggests he could have been an ambulatory foe - or was he always intended to be this glorious mess that they probably carted to the Cathedral in a barrel all the way from Mariposa?
Tagaziel (07:24 PM): https://fallout.fandom.com/wiki/Vault_13:_A_GURPS_Post-Nuclear_Adventure_timeline For those who don't know what I'm talking about.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:26 PM): I may be misremembering, but I felt he was ambulatory enough to get to the Cathedral on his own, especially depending on what he fed on/subsumed into his body, and then he became part of the overseer's chair over time
Leonard Boyarsky (07:26 PM): I don't remember him ever being planned to be ambulatory in the game, though
Tagaziel (07:27 PM): Now I thought of Richard Grey/Moreau as a centaur giving piggyback rides to his lieutenants.
Tagaziel (07:27 PM): That's a picture.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:27 PM): Hah
Tagaziel (07:27 PM): Morale boosting.
Agent c (07:27 PM): Ride... Die... Ride.... Die
Tagaziel (07:27 PM): Were there ever intentions of integrating more eldritch or extradimensional aspects into Fallout, such as Old Gods, Elders, and more Lovecraftian things, or was Fallout always more intended to be like Buck Rogers than Lovecraft? It certainly had the Master, his corridor of revulsion, the psykers mentioned by Avellone to be closer to Childhood's End than just spoon benders...
Leonard Boyarsky (07:28 PM): I love Childhood's End, but I don't think I'd read it back then
Leonard Boyarsky (07:29 PM): It was mostly supposed to be more Road Warrior/Buck Rogers, I just loved the aesthetic of the Thing movie
Tim Cain (07:29 PM): I think the more elements you throw into an IP, the more diluted it becomes. I regret adding the ghost to the Den (and yeah, that was me) because Fallout is so rich and has so much to explore that it doesn't need the supernatural elements to be creepy
Tagaziel (07:30 PM): Uh-oh, this confession will not go down well with some fans. 😉
Tim Cain (07:30 PM): I think the IP as a whole is better when it has limits
Tagaziel (07:32 PM): @LeonB we had a question about Rhombus, do you remember this take on the T-51 talking head model? It definitely looks different from the end talking heads, but a lot like the in-game sprite.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:34 PM): That looks like a badly lit and textured version of the digitized clay head. Not sure what's up with that armor, we used the same armor model for all the talking heads wearing power armor, taken from the model I made for the intro
Tagaziel (07:34 PM): It's from an ancient German preview for Fallout GURPS, which included a shot of the process of digitizing the models.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:35 PM): Weird
Tagaziel (07:35 PM): Now, while I dig that up, a question. A big question.
Tagaziel (07:35 PM): Do ghouls poop
Tagaziel (07:35 PM): Or rather: Do ghouls need to eat and drink? Or is ghoul biology something that was written differently whenever it needed to work a certain way
Tagaziel (07:35 PM): (Fallout 1 has Necropolis and endings tied to water, but later on it got confused; VB design docs even have a note "do ghouls even poop")
Tim Cain (07:36 PM): To quote my favorite book title "Everyone poops"
Leonard Boyarsky (07:37 PM): Jason and I bout that for Tim for his birthday
Tim Cain (07:37 PM): I always thought they ate and drank and breathed. They just aged slower (but sometimes things fell off or grew weird)
Tim Cain (07:37 PM): Thank you again, Leon
Leonard Boyarsky (07:37 PM): any time
Tagaziel (07:37 PM): Found it. And @Tim Cain won't believe what the thumb is
Tagaziel (07:38 PM): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haKOhyUqk4c
Leonard Boyarsky (07:38 PM): Timmy!
Tim Cain (07:38 PM): Oh. My. God.
Tim Cain (07:38 PM): I'm 12
Aiden4017 (07:39 PM): What about Woody and Coffin Willie? Woody spent several weeks as a 'mummy' exhibit, and Willie was buried alive for a couple of months. Are they just a fun joke, or?
Tim Cain (07:40 PM): They remind me of The World's Smartest Orc in Arcanum. Someone was making some money...
Tagaziel (07:41 PM): And getting him to break character...
Tagaziel (07:41 PM): Now, back to questions, since we're in the final stretch: Talking about limits, what's something either of you don't ever want to see in Fallout? Or something you could remove from Fallout like it never existed? (We already have the ghost thing on record, sir)
Tim Cain (07:41 PM): I PM not a fan of the talking Deathclaws.
Tim Cain (07:42 PM): They were meant to be the biggest baddest scariest thing ever. Not librarians.
Leonard Boyarsky (07:42 PM): Hear hear
Tagaziel (07:44 PM): Random question: Did the Overseer ever have a solid name? We have "Jacoren" from the concept art, but beyond that....
Leonard Boyarsky (07:44 PM): No
Tagaziel (07:44 PM): (for those who wonder)
Tim Cain (07:45 PM): Internally, he was always referenced as Overseer
Leonard Boyarsky (07:45 PM): He was originally named that (obviously), but after that drawing I don't know that I ever referred to him that way again
Tim Cain (07:46 PM): That sketch really captures his eyebrows
Tagaziel (07:46 PM): Makes Groucho Marx jealous from the afterlife
Tagaziel (07:46 PM): Oooh, this is good. How did the original designs for the original robots (ie the floating Eyebot) come around? Was its design based on something specific that existed?
Leonard Boyarsky (07:47 PM): I honestly don't remember
Leonard Boyarsky (07:47 PM): We were just trying to make robots that looked like they belonged in 50's b-movies
Tim Cain (07:48 PM): Wasn't a floating one pitched to reduce needed animations?
Leonard Boyarsky (07:48 PM): That's a distinct possibility
Tagaziel (07:50 PM): Given that we're slowly, but inevitably approaching the end of our roundtable, did either of you have questions you wished were asked, but never were? Aside from the ones I received and filed under #cool-stuff . Alternatively, any message to the community at large?
Aiden4017 (07:50 PM): I can see that. The Fallout 1/2 Eyebot certainly looks like it came off the set of a B-movie, compared to the later sputnik style in 3 onwards.
Tim Cain (07:52 PM): Thank you all for your support. I don't go to conferences much, but when I have, I have met some of the nicest fans I could ever hope to have. Also, Fallout fans are just smarter and better looking than average, don't you think?
Agent c (07:52 PM): Playing to the audience there 😛
Leonard Boyarsky (07:52 PM): I can't think of any questions we missed (here or in any of the other interviews we've done), but I again want to thanks everyone for being such loyal fans to something we made as a labor of love
Leonard Boyarsky (07:53 PM): We were hoping people would love it as much as we did, and it seems like it worked out
Tagaziel (07:55 PM): Meeting you today, I believe I speak for everyone that we can see why it came out the way it did. 🙂
Tim Cain (07:55 PM): Talent (Leon) and Luck (Tim)
Leonard Boyarsky (07:56 PM): Aww, thanks
Leonard Boyarsky (07:56 PM): BUt I've always said I cranked my Luck up to 10
Leonard Boyarsky (07:56 PM): It really was lightning in a bottle
Aiden4017 (07:57 PM): Alright, so here's a popular question. Zusk asks; "Hey! There is this question I always wanted to ask you two. At the start of Fallout 2's development Fred Hatch proposed a outline for Fallout 2's story that didn't end up getting made. A few developers have talked a little about this in the past, but I was wondering if you could perhaps share a little more about your rationale at the time and what Fred's story entailed? Included is an excerpt from Honouring the Code: Conversations with Great Developers that goes into it a bit. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to the community like this." https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/1033904388743372800/1033909290831990894/unknown.png
LR (07:58 PM): I haven't really been able to participate in full as I've been working tonight, but I want to thank y'all for taking the time to chat with us. Reading back has been a very fun and informative experience. Best of wishes and love from the rest of the Fallout community. ❤️
Leonard Boyarsky (07:59 PM): Thank you
Tim Cain (07:59 PM): Fred's team's story started with the player getting amnesia and losing their memories (i.e. levels) and then wandering into a town that is colorless (just shades of grey). It turns out a computer is running it based on old episodes of Leave It To Beaver.
Tim Cain (08:00 PM): That's mostly what I can remember
Tagaziel (08:00 PM): 😮
Leonard Boyarsky (08:00 PM): Tim has a waaaaay better memory than I do
Tim Cain (08:00 PM): Also I take LOTS of notes
Tagaziel (08:00 PM): Hopefully, they can be digitized and made public one day!
Tim Cain (08:00 PM): And on that note...I need to sign off
Tim Cain (08:01 PM): Thank you everyone!
Tagaziel (08:01 PM): The two hours are up! Once more, thank you for coming!
Leonard Boyarsky (08:01 PM): Me to - thanks everyone for taking the time to be here and to ask questions
Aiden4017 (08:01 PM): Thanks for being here! I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Tim Cain (08:01 PM): 👋
LR (08:02 PM): Thanks again! ❤️
Agent c (08:02 PM): Any new projects you want to promote before you go?

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