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My idea is to explore more of the world and more of the ethics of a post-nuclear world, not to make a better plasma gun.— Tim Cain[1]

Timothy "Tim" Cain is the original creator of the Fallout series and setting. He was the lead programmer on Fallout and one of the six people responsible for the game's original design.


Interplay Entertainment[]

Tim Cain began his career at Interplay Entertainment as a freelancer, working on The Bard's Tale Construction Set, a game creation system. After finishing, he was fully employed by Interplay in August 1991.

Initially, he was the only one working on Interplay's GURPS project, creating the game's engine. Later the team grew and he went from lead programmer to producer when Tom Decker left the project.

After completing Fallout, Cain went on to do some pre-production work on Fallout 2. However, he had never wanted to work on a Fallout 2, as he envisioned Fallout as a standalone with no sequel in mind. Despite this, Cain wrote the main story arc, creating the idea of Vault experiments, as well as helping designing The Den area. In an interview, he criticized the bigger influence from the sales/marketing department during Fallout 2's development, saying, "We were losing part of the game to a larger group who had bigger plans for it."[2] Because he did not like the direction Fallout 2 was going in, he left the Fallout 2 project and Interplay due to various reasons:

  • The deadline for Fallout 2's completion was too short in Cain's eyes, and he did not want to experience more exhaustion and crunch.
  • People were intervening in creative issues such as the game's box art, when Cain wanted involvement in such decisions. It was also mandated the Temple of Trials was unskippable even on repeat playthroughs, which Cain was unhappy about. Cain also felt too much humor needed outside pop culture references in order to understand.
  • Previously, a memory overwrite bug delayed the first Fallout from launch, resulting in crunch, making Cain exhausted from trying to fix it.
    • Tim Cain had tensions with producer Brian Fargo, who reduced Cain's bonus after Cain refused to disclose who was responsible for the bug.
  • He did not want more responsibility on the Fallout 2 project.[3]

Additionally, Cain is gay, but he had not been public about it at the time, and felt Interplay was a hostile environment for gay people. He was made uncomfortable by the sort of homophobic comments his co-workers were allowed to make. He vocally supported other LGBT co-workers in spite of the stigma associated with doing so. On one occasion, he confronted a higher-up employee upon overhearing her comments regarding a transfeminine coworker. The higher-up insisted on going directly to Human Resources. Cain agreed, explicitly wagered his job against hers, and offered to walk to HR together, then waited at a distance. She spoke further with her coworker and left without incident.[4]

After leaving Interplay, but shortly before establishing Troika Games, he was contacted by someone at Electronic Arts, the publisher which held the rights to Wasteland. They were only able to find him by telephoning every Tim Cain in the tri-county area. They offered him the opportunity to direct Wasteland 2, and a team of their own developers to work on the project. On the same call, the person on the other end casually revealed that they had never intended to allow Interplay to use the Wasteland license, "stringing them along" out of disrespect for the developer as a whole and Brian Fargo in particular. Tim declined the offer, because the anecdote did not inspire confidence.[5] Ultimately, Brian Fargo's company inXile entertainment would acquire the Wasteland license in 2003. They would go on to crowdfund the development of Wasteland 2 through Kickstarter, and the game was released in 2014.

Troika Games[]

After leaving Interplay, he set up Troika Games with Leonard Boyarsky and Jason D. Anderson who decided to leave the Fallout 2 project with Cain. He was a project leader and lead programmer on Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura and The Temple of Elemental Evil. He also worked as a programmer on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Troika's last game.

Sometime in 2003, during his time at Troika Games, Cain was contacted by a vice president at Interplay who wanted his opinion on the then in-development Fallout game Van Buren. The reason for Cain's involvement was that the VP had decided to cancel Van Buren so they wanted Cain to ascertain if it was still possible to proceed with development for the game with the resources they had (at the time Interplay was already experiencing financial troubles). Although advised by some of his colleagues not to get involved, Cain was convinced to do so in the hope that the project could still be saved. After playing a game prototype and interviewing some of the people working for the game, Cain provided a rough estimate for 18 months to get the game in a pristine condition, and 12 to get it in a releasable state. The VP then informed Cain that only an answer lower or equal to 6 months would have convinced them to prevent Van Buren's cancellation.[6]

After Bethesda secured the Fallout license from Interplay in 2004, Cain expressed disappointment. "I was hoping that Troika would get the license, but we were massively outbid. But in the end, they made a good game."[7]

Carbine Studios[]

After Troika's shutdown in 2005, he joined as the programming director at Carbine Studio working on Wildstar, a fantasy MMO game for NCSoft. He was promoted to design director in October 2007. Cain left Carbine Studios in July 2011.

Obsidian Entertainment[]

In October 2011, he announced that he was joining Obsidian Entertainment as a senior programmer under a limited time contract and would eventually leave the company.[8][9] On February 20, 2012, Tim announced that he would not leave Obsidian, but would join the company and work full time, which he did for over eight years. Cain ceased full time work at Obsidian by 2020, remaining in a largely consultant role, and works on a contractual basis at two other companies, as well.[10]

Cain on Games[]

Main article: Cain on Games

Cain also hosts Cain on Games, a YouTube channel where he discusses his experiences within and thoughts on the gaming industry. His topics also include the development of Fallout; transcripts from some of his videos are provided.


  • Tim Cain is responsible for writing Fallout's most famous and first-line spoken, "War. War never changes." It was also his only writing contribution to the first Fallout.[11]
  • Typing "boom" on the Fallout credits will show an animation of his head exploding. The FRM file can be found FO1 Tim Cain and His Magnificent Explosive Headhere.
  • In Fallout 2, in Golgotha near New Reno, there is a grave marker that reads, "Tim Cain. Founder, Lover, Fighter, Programmer."
  • Tim Cain's face is the Fallout 1 & 2 icon when icons are displayed larger than 32x32. This became the default on versions of Windows newer than the release of the games, leading to this easter egg becoming the default for newer players.

Employment history[]

19911998Interplay EntertainmentProgrammer
Programming consultant
19982005Troika GamesLead programmer
Project leader
20112014Carbine StudiosAdditional content design
2011PresentObsidian EntertainmentDirector
Additional system design


Fallout series[]

YearTitleCredited as/for
Lead programmer
Original game design
1998Fallout 2Original game design
Additional programming

Other work[]

YearTitleCredited as/for
1991The Bard's Tale Construction SetDesigner
Manual writer
1995StonekeepProgramming consultant
2001Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick ObscuraProject leader
Lead programmer
2003The Temple of Elemental EvilProject leader
Lead programmer
2004Vampire: The Masquerade - BloodlinesProgrammer
2014South Park: Stick of TruthGameplay programmer
2014WildStarAdditional content design
2015Pillars of EternitySenior programmer
Additional system design
2019The Outer WorldsDirector



See also[]

External links[]