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Todd Howard talks about Fallout
Game News - posted by Vault Dweller on Thu 24 May 2007, 19:16:48Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3
NMA reports that Todd Howard has answered a few questions about this and that on the Bethesda forums.
What are your inspirations...Todd sure likes to talk. He's like that guy who replies to an innocent "what's up?" with a detailed, but absolutely meaningless up-to-date account of his life. So, yeah, great. It's gonna be like the Lord of the Ring, only with Superman and Batman instead of Frodo and Sam. Awesome.
Oh, whatever. You guys just ask these questions because youâ€™re subversively trying to get a better understanding of who we are and what makes us tick, because that will give you insight into what Fallout 3 is and whatâ€™s going to make it tick, so Iâ€™m not going to answer the questions, since I think you guys have proven you deserve something more, straight from â€œthe horseâ€™s mouthâ€.
Obviously I canâ€™t talk about the game itself yet, but I can give you a look into how I/we approached it. When we first got the license in 2004, I was pretty ecstatic, I pushed pretty hard for us to get it, because I really liked the first game and thought Fallout would be a great fit for us, it has all the big things I love about RPGs â€“ player freedom, big world, go do what you want type of stuff. But once you have it â€“ you obviously get to work on how to approach an icon like Fallout. And itâ€™s much harder then you think, because itâ€™s certainly a game that has grown in its legacy as time goes on, itâ€™s hard to sift through what its â€œessenceâ€ or â€œsoulâ€ is, because itâ€™s aged, and people often discuss it in nostalgic tones.
I obviously replayed the games, and Fallout 1 remains the truest inspiration for what weâ€™re doing, but again, it can be hard to get at the â€œsoulâ€ of it, because of its aging. So I look to things like the first gameâ€™s manual. The fiction and tone of it. There is also a great, great section in the Fallout 1 hintbook, â€œOne Womanâ€™s Path through the Desertâ€, which is a journal of going through the game, as if it was real. In some ways, that section is a better look into the game then the game itself. I also read old-reviews, because they gave me a better understanding of how those games felt then. Again, removing the aging.
I obviously looked at all the PA movies â€“ Boy and his Dog, Mad Max, Strangelove, etc. Though I find the actual PA movies end up fairly generic, and donâ€™t capture what is special about the Fallout world, and thatâ€™s not the world that you end up with, but the world of 2077 that gets destroyed, and then built upon. I became far more interested in the â€œpre-warâ€ world, then the â€œpost-warâ€ world.
I also looked a lot at my own reactions to other franchises that have had long gaps and were reborn/updated again in another era. Mostly movies, and such, The Lord of the Rings, Superman, Batman, etc, etc. Now, Iâ€™m a recovering comic book junkie, so Iâ€™ll probably be throwing around a lot of superhero references, and I hope they make sense. Speaking of which, Iâ€™d really like to sell a bunch of long-boxes from my basement if anyone wants them, you just canâ€™t have my signed Frank Miller Dark Knight. Speaking of Dark Knight, Batman remains my favorite (one day Iâ€™m gonna rock the house with an open-ended gotham city Batman game, mark my words). The recent Batman and Superman movies, or even their earlier counterparts are pretty good examples of classic iconic franchises that were reborn again. I loveâ€¦loveâ€¦Batman Begins. Chris Nolan is a @#$*!^& genius. See the Prestige if you havenâ€™t. Now, I have problems as a huge Batman fan with it, but the pure â€œsoulâ€ of Batman beats in the heart of that movie, and Nolanâ€™s current â€œI believe in Harvey Dentâ€ tease from The Dark Knight is further proof of his genius.
I also love the first Superman movie, and I think I draw many parallels from Bryan Singer doing Superman Returns, which tries to follow Superman 1 and 2 and ignore 3 and 4, to our own situation. Reg Richard Donnerâ€™s Superman, one of my mantras, and itâ€™s a word he used for making that movie, is â€œverisimilitudeâ€. Look it up if you donâ€™t know what it means. Donner made a sign of it and put it up (maybe Iâ€™ll do the same). I want to bring that to Fallout, I want to make it real again, and come alive like itâ€™s the first time youâ€™ve ever seen it. Treat it with respect, and donâ€™t cheese it up.
I wish I could give you real, true, insight into what we put into our games, and this is not me just trying to sell you, or smooth you over, because Iâ€™m Ok, really, if you donâ€™t love what we do. Weâ€™re fans, weâ€™re passionate about what we do. We go on a crusade to make the best game we can. We make the game we would run to the store and buy, we argue, we debate, we scream, we stay up all night, we clap and cheer the highs and curse the lows. One day weâ€™ll find a way to make you a fly on the wall in one of our design meetings â€“ theyâ€™re pretty damn inspiring. And I wish you knew all the faces of the 80 people busting ass to make this game great. The secret superstars you donâ€™t know of like Istvan Pely, Mike Lipari, and Scott Franke. I could go on and on.
Iâ€™m often asked about the fans and our forums, and I think you all want to know if your opinions are heard or it youâ€™re shouting into a black hole. And I can assure you that we have these forums so we can hear from you. And yes, we read most of it. Itâ€™s like a car crash you just have to watch sometimes, lots of violence and parts exploding, but there is something awesome in its power. Your opinions do matter, and we want them. We are influenced by what gets said about us on these forums, in the press, the letters we get and so forth. Speaking of letters, we do get a lot, and the letters are different then the forum posts. One of the popular letters we get is from someone whoâ€™s had a life-changing experience, or gone through a bad time, and had to write us to tell us how much Morrowind/Oblivion meant to them. That it became a real world to them, that they got to escape and play a stronger/different person then they are in real life, and it helped them. You have to pretty jaded to not have that affect you. And thatâ€™s why you come to these forums and thatâ€™s why people outside of RPGs and/or Fallout may think you are crazy. Because they are not just games, they are worlds, and for the time you play them they are as real as anything you have experienced in life, they become part of you and you care. Thatâ€™s why you and I are both here.
To say we care about Fallout would be an epic understatement. We are excited/humbled to be the ones to bring it back. I know we donâ€™t have all the right answers, or the oneâ€™s you would make when it comes to how it should be or look. We can only do what we think is right and what makes us the most excited, and thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve done. Weâ€™ve left no stone unturned in trying to find Falloutâ€™s â€œsoulâ€, but those decisions are ours, not yours. I just hope you give the game a look and decide if that soul is there for you.
I think I know what it feels like to adopt kids now, because we adopted Fallout and for the last 3 years we have been doing our best to care for it, and now I love it like it had been our child forever; and soon, very soon, we can show him to the world again. I think heâ€™s got something to say, and I think itâ€™s important.
You may not agree, you may be too cynical to look at it objectively anymore, but Iâ€™m going to guess that youâ€™re reading this forum because Fallout really does matter, and it does mean something far more to you then just â€œa game.â€ So for my final superhero reference, I leave you with this quote from Christopher Reeve; insert Fallout:
"I've seen first hand how Superman actually transforms people's lives. I have seen children dying of brain tumors who wanted as their last request to be able to talk to me, and have gone to their graves with a peace brought on by knowing that their belief in this kind of character is intact. I've seen that Superman really matters. They're connecting with something very basic: the ability to overcome obstacles, the ability to persevere, the ability to understand difficulty and to turn your back on it.â€