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AusGamers Fallout: New Vegas Obsidian Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 04:46pm 26/08/10 | Comments
At this year's QuakeCon, AusGamers spoke to Obsidian's Tess Treadwell, who is a producer on Fallout: New Vegas. Read on for our in-depth interview...

AusGamers: It's no secret I'm a massive fan of Fallout, having logged more than 150 hours into Fallout 3, but I guess for me Tess, one of the burning questions for Fallout: New Vegas I have is, you obviously worked on the same engine as Fallout 3, did you guys tweak much of it?

Tess Treadwell: Oh yeah (smiles wryly). So there were a lot of things we just optimised as far as performance goes, and we basically took their dialogue system and built a new one on top of it. Mostly because we just wanted to have more complex dialogue that affected a lot more things, and we just couldn't do that with their engine. So that's something we had the programmers work on from the start.

AG: With the changed dialogue system, when you say "complex” do you mean more choices, or more dynamic?

Tess: I would say both - more choices and more dynamic. The way that their GECK game editor works, I guess it just makes dialogue clunky and hard to manage, and I guess Fallout 3's dialogue didn't get that complicated, but for us there are dialogue strings that just go on and on, and things you say will affect things that happen later on - there's just so much stuff going on that we built our own (dialogue system).

AG: So will there be changing, dynamic reactions from NPCs over time? I always hated going back to Megaton and having the sheriff always say "Are you lookin' for the mayor, or the sheriff?"

Tess: Oh yeah, in ours... well for one they'll respond to your faction reputation, sometimes factions will comment on your reputation with other factions, and also major events. People will comment on not just things you've done, but things that are happening in the world. You know, like, if the NCR loses an outpost or something, people will comment on that, and that might be the way you find out about it. That kind of stuff will happen all the time.

AG: Just on the faction stuff, can you run us through how it works, because I noticed when I was playing that the towns have kind of a marker for neutral, liked or disliked - is it that cut and dry?

Tess: There are actually mixed faction reputations. There're the main factions like the NCR, the Legion and also there are towns you can get reputations in, and then there are smaller sub-factions who you can also have various reputations with. And you know, with the NCR you might get good enough reputation that they'll help you for certain things or enemies, or, if the Legion likes you they might let you access some of their supplies somewhere and stuff like that. I don't know if you saw the faction armour stuff, but you can actually put on NCR armour and most of them will treat you as if you're one of their own...

AG: And obviously if you're wearing that armour and you go to another faction...

Tess: Then they'll attack you on sight. For instance let's say I have a bad reputation with the NCR and they don't like me anymore but I want to do some of their quests, I can put on their armour and try to sneak my way in to do stuff that they normally wouldn't let me do, but they also have characters who can see through that, so there's a balance of who can see through it, taking care of them first, and then go and do the quest.

AG: Has levelling up and things of that nature been pulled directly from Fallout 3?

Tess: It basically works the same, though we did change that you get Perks every other level, and also we brought Traits back and you pick those when you create your character.

AG: Is it a level 30 cap out of the box?

Tess: I'm not sure if we've said... but I believe that's the case.

AG: Now when I said I played 150 hours of Fallout 3, I actually did! But you know, you could knock the game's main story out in about 20 hours or something - for you guys is it a similar case, and how much branching can you actually do; how big is the game-world as a whole?

Tess: Oh man. If you picked a path and just tried to blaze through, I wanna say you could do it 30 but I'm just not sure because I haven't done it - there's just so much stuff to do you get distracted. I know for a fact that we have more quests than Fallout 3 and in terms of just stuff to do, I think we also have a lot more. It's not that there's just a lot more in the world, there's also crafting, you can pick crops, stuff like that, so...

AG: Okay, so you can farm?

Tess: Well you can't really farm, but you can take other people's plants, and if you come back to them a few days later they will have grown.

AG: Obviously the game-world is different in that it's not a grey hue, it's sunny California; blue skies... is there a weather system, or is it just a day/night system?

Tess: Let's see, weather... well there are areas where it's extra windy and you'll see a lot of dirt and sand in the air, that kind of stuff, but we don't have rain or anything like that.

AG: In terms of any quests you do, side or main, how much will the game-world change? There were a couple of things frustrating about Fallout 3, for example, when yo do Oasis, if you chose to let the tree live and spread there was this idea the land around would start to turn green, but you never really saw that... will you guys having anything like that with a more definitively dynamic outcome?

Tess: There's obviously an NCR outpost, and we'll have stuff like, if the Legion is winning against them, then they'll take over and occupy that outpost - stuff like that.

AG: Will it be possible to play the factions off against each other?

Tess:Yes, it'll be possible to multi-faction... well to a certain extent. I mean at some point they'll figure it out (smiles).

AG: In terms of the companion system, what was the decision behind expanding that to the extent you guys have? Obviously there were examples of it in the other games, but it seems you guys have crafted a deeper, more robust system here...

Tess: Yeah, so one of the things Obsidian is known for is our companions (the other is our writing and story stuff). And that's a big deal to us, to have companions who feel like people; you know they have a story, they have a personality, you know, they all talk a certain way. So in our game, the first thing we tried to address is the complaints and frustrations people had with the companions in Fallout 3. You know, they'd get in the way, or they wouldn't equip what I wanted them to, or they'd just let themselves die... So with ours, we've got a really quick and easy companion wheel. It's just one click and you can tell them "use a Stimpak", "go over here", "get away from me", you know.

They also each have their own back-story; they also have their own quests, so let's say this one character says he wants to check out a certain place and here's my reason, can we go do it, and you can say yeah, sure, let's go and do it and by doing that for them, they might give you something or help you out with something you want to do. And also every companion gives you a Perk and you'll only have the Perk when they're with you.

AG: Right. So is there a loyalty bonus for doing stuff like that, you know, similar to Mass Effect 2?

Tess: Yes. So there's kind of a sliding scale. Let's say, if a companion doesn't like killing, and you just kill everyone left and right they're eventually gonna go "that's enough, I can't deal with you anymore - I'm leaving", and you've also got things like... there's this one character named Boon who's an ex-sniper and he hates the Legion and if you ever do anything with the Legion he knows about, he'll leave you immediately, so if you do, he's gone.

AG: So you'd have to leave him somewhere out of sight if you wanted to do stuff with them?

Tess: Yeah, you can do that. The other thing you can do, is if you take him anywhere where there's Legion, he'll immediately start shooting, regardless of what you say. So there's stuff like that you have to worry about.

AG: Now it's probably too late (in development), but one of my biggest gripes of all with Fallout 3 was that you couldn't sleep in an owned bed. You can steal anything from the house and even kill the bed's owner, and still not be able to sleep in it - it looks like you guys haven't fixed that in this build anyway...

Tess: I was under the impression you could and you would take a Karma hit...

AG: See I was going to suggest that.

Tess: I thought we'd implemented that, I mean maybe it's my fault as producer for not remembering, but I thought we did. It might just not be in this build.

AG: So there's still hope?

Tess: There's still hope (smiles).

AG: Now obviously in the menu here (pointing at Fallout: New Vegas on in the background), there's a "Downloadable Content" option... you guys probably can't talk about it, but given the financial and critical success of Fallout 3's DLC, it's all a bit of a no-brainer this will be supported post-release...

(Tess quickly covers the menu with her hand)

Tess: Umm... I would agree that it's a no-brainer, I can't say whether we're doing it or not. You're the first person to point that out though, I don't think that was supposed to be in there for this...

AG: (Laughing maniacally) well thanks for your time then Tess, we're really looking forward to the game's release.

Tess: You're welcome.

Latest Comments
Posted 05:11pm 26/8/10
Steve Farrelly
Posted 05:20pm 26/8/10
Posted 05:45pm 26/8/10
hah downloadable content once again.
Posted 05:46pm 26/8/10
Downloadable content rules.
Posted 05:53pm 26/8/10
That's a bearded-man if I ever saw one.
Posted 06:03pm 26/8/10
Fallout 3 was a sweet game and I look forward to the Vegas version. However I am highly skeptical of Obsidian they really do seem like the retarded stepchild of Bioware.
Posted 11:29pm 26/8/10
Yay, traits are back! Dunno why, but they made the originals feel much more like RPGs. Really looking forward to this!
Posted 11:35pm 26/8/10
as long as some of the developers were from Black isle they will pull it off.
Posted 12:42am 27/8/10
Yeah, I agree with fpot, looking forward to it but Obsidian (as much as I respect the black isle guys who formed it and work there), kind of turn out pretty shoddy, dodgy stuff. So I'm a little apprehensive.
Posted 01:04am 27/8/10
kind of turn out pretty shoddy, dodgy stuff.
They don't seem to have that much of a back catalogue, kotor2 was unfinished, supposedly due to a deadline and not their fault (although thats debatable, maybe they should have finished it?)
NWN2 was decent wasn't it, i remember it being alright.
Alpha protocol 2, well yeah not that great, i didn't mind the conversation trees in it though which should transfer well to a fallout game which already has a proven game engine.
Posted 07:49am 27/8/10
By shoddy and dodgy, I meant more the quality, the games they've put out in the past haven't been quality controlled very well, they're often rather rough, unfinished and buggy. Even though Fallout 3 was a bit rough and buggy in places too, but I spose I forgave it because the game itself was so much fun, so maybe it'll just be the same thing here.
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