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Fallout: New Vegas and DLC Post-mortem Interview

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Fallout: New Vegas and DLC Post-mortem Interview

Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Tue 29 November 2011, 11:02:58

Tags: Chris Avellone; Fallout: New Vegas; Obsidian Entertainment

Gamebanshee conducted a two-part interview with Magnificient Chris Avellone concerning Fallout: New Vegas.

A snippet from part I:

Each of the DLCs you've released takes a different approach in both gameplay and setting. What steps did you take to ensure that each one retained a consistent feel with New Vegas, as well as Fallout in general? 

We recognized each DLC had to set itself apart, but still fit in the universe. There were a few steps we took, some resource-dependent, others more design-dependent: 

- We set up narrative and visual hooks in the Mojave that would tie to the DLCs, whether players recognized them (the Canyon Wreckage was pretty obvious) or only in retrospect (Sierra Madre billboards and posters, Burned Man graffiti and dialogues). 

- With respect to the narrative, we made sure we laid the foundation for Ulysses with Nash in Primm to establish the mystery for Lonesome Road, there were plenty of references to the Burned Man in Honest Hearts in the loading screens and in character dialogue that Josh Sawyer (NV Project Director) took care to place in, and I fleshed out the Elijah hooks with Veronica in coordination with Eric Fenstermaker and sat in on Felicia Day's voice recording session for her backstory with Elijah to make sure it connected to Dead Money (although we had to mask the references in the GECK so it didn't spoil what was to come). Eric also helped by setting up evidence of Elijah's path with the bomb collar victims in the Mojave as well. 

- Old World Blues was the anomaly, it took everything in the Mojave I thought was odd and tried to give a logical underpinning for it (Cazadores, Nightstalkers), so in essence, Old World Blues was a way of pulling back the curtain and see additional support structure for creatures and events in the Mojave. 

- One element of consistency that was resource-dependent was using the existing architecture that had been established both in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, both terrain and actual buildings. We did make an effort to try and use these architectural building blocks in new ways (Lonesome Road being the best example). Seeing consistent architectural styles and props go a long way to making you feel like you're sharing the same space as the Mojave even if other elements of the DLC are new (atmospheric changes such as rain, toxic clouds, dust storms, and so on). 

- I do believe because some of us had worked with Fallout for so long, that helped maintain consistency as well. Scotty Everts, who built all the maps for Fallout 1, for example, has been constructing the world of Fallout for a good chunk of his design career, so having his eyes on the New Vegas and DLC terrain was a plus as well.
 

And another snippet from part II:

Are there any final comments you'd like to add about your experience developing the game's DLC? Perhaps there are a few interesting easter eggs you'd be willing to share?

I'd never done DLC before, and I prefer releasing four short adventure packs to a 2-3 year RPG title for a number of reasons: 

- Quicker feedback and sense of accomplishment. 

- Tighter team, scope, and focus. When you set out to make a 4-12 hour experience, it focuses your efforts. 

- Smaller voice cast - I always prefer a smaller, deeper cast that allows more reactivity (Alpha Protocol) to a sprawling cast of more shallow characters, so the DLCs were good for that. 

- The chance to experiment with brand-new themes and mechanics in each DLC - if there's an experiment you've always wanted to try, DLCs are a great stomping ground for it. If you want to experiment with tiny end slides for each region, a hallucinogenic boss battle with a mutant bear, flare guns, mute characters, opening slides, evil endings, a chattering base of talking appliances, and cutting out the player's brain, guess what? No big deal. Try it out in a tiny test bed and check out the audience reaction. 

Lastly, the fact we knew we were going to be able to do 4 narrative DLCs (which is a rare in the game industry - you can never guarantee you're going to be able to do a sequel, which we've discovered with Alpha Protocol, Knights of the Old Republic 2, and even titles back at Black Isle). So once we knew we'd do 4, that allowed us to do foreshadowing across titles and create a larger narrative arc rather than a series of isolated adventures, and the DLCs were stronger for it. 

As far as Easter eggs go, aside from the Wild Wasteland ones, there's a secret ending to Dead Money that allows you to side with the bad guy (like the Master in Fallout 1) which not many people found. Also, if you are playing a really stupid character with Dog's personality in DLC1 he'll tell you what it was like to be in the Master's army and life in the vault and cathedral in Fallout 1. 

The designers had a lot of fun doing the Wild Wasteland encounters - we had special stages in the DLC production that allowed designers (and Bethesda's QA department) to suggest Wild Wasteland encounters, and they turned out to be a lot of fun to implement (the tiny Deathclaw, Spike, in Old World Blues, comes to mind).

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