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Codex Interview RPG Codex Interview: Leonard Boyarsky on joining Obsidian, Fallout & Bloodlines cut content and more

Crooked Bee

(no longer) a wide-wandering bee
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Tags: Fallout; Fallout 2; Journey to the Center of Arcanum; Leonard Boyarsky; Obsidian Entertainment; Troika Games; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

As older Codex denizens may recall, there used to be a company called Troika Games and they made what some would say were fairly good RPGs. In 2005, however, they had to close due to financial issues, to much sadness here on the Codex and elsewhere. Troika's co-founders - Jason Anderson, Leonard Boyarsky, and Tim Cain - were scattered to the wind, adrift and working on games better left unmentioned, until Tim Cain ended up at Obsidian. Surprisingly enough, leaving what was perceived by many people as his cushy job at Blizzard, Leonard Boyarsky followed suit just earlier this year. This interview is, as far as we know, the first interview with him since the move.

All kudos go to esteemed community member Jedi Master Radek for organizing and conducting the interview, to our forum users who submitted their questions, and, of course, to Leonard and Obsidian for making this possible.

Here are a few snippets from the full thing:

Why did you leave Blizzard?

I really, really, really, really, really wanted to return to making single player RPGs.

Since you and Tim are back together now, has there been any contact with Jason Anderson? Are you still friends? Any pipe dreams of getting back together?

We’re still friends with Jason, we get together for a Troika lunch a few times a year.

So, of course, I would love to work with him again someday, but it wouldn’t be as simple as us just picking up where we left off. When we worked on Fallout and started Troika, Jason, Tim and I all had our own specific skills which complemented each other's well. But it's been over ten years, we've all had vastly different experiences, and our areas of expertise have shifted and grown (hopefully), so it wouldn't just be a matter of us getting back together and sliding into our old roles, we'd have to figure out the balance again.

What's your dream game that you'd like to make? And when are we getting Bloodlines 2 or Arcanum 2? What Troika game would you like to make a sequel to the most?

I'm happy to say that I'm currently working on my dream game. As far as sequels, it's Arcanum 2, hands down. I'd much rather work on IPs of my own creation. That doesn't mean I wouldn't work on Bloodlines 2 if given the opportunity, but if I had a choice between them it's an easy call to make.

How did the early draft for Fallout 2's story and locations look like before you left Black Isle? How was it changed for the final game? What direction were you planning to steer the story and the world?

You have to remember that this was twenty years ago, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think, overall, it stayed pretty close to our original design. There was a lot of work that had to be done to fill in the blanks when we left, but they followed much of what we had laid out. Except they added talking death claws. If we had stayed, I guarantee there would have never been talking, intelligent death claws.

An idea which may or may not have ever actually made it in (and may have been their genesis) was that you could find a death claw egg and hatch it, and the death claw would become a follower. The joke was that, in order to not have everyone freak out when you walked into town, you could put a cloak on him - which would have effectively made him look like a slightly larger version of a normal NPC in a cloak (with a hidden face). When combat started, he would throw off the cloak and inexplicably grow to his correct size. This was suggested as a way we could do it without adding animations for him (we could just use NPC anims), and as a way to not add reactions for walking into town with him. However, you need to keep in mind that a lot of ideas started out silly, just to make us laugh, and we would evolve them into their darker versions as we went. I have no idea how the death claw follower would have played out had we stayed. But he wouldn't have spoken.

It was supposed to be very haunting and mysterious when you showed up to Vault 13 - the legends of your tribe told of many who tried to get in and failed, and you show up and the door is open and the whole vault is empty.

Do you think there's too much focus on balancing everything to perfection in modern games?

I have no idea what you possibly could be referring to.​

The interview also includes questions about VtMB's and Fallout's cut content, Fallout's early concepts, contemporary games with good art style (aka 1eyedking bait), and more - including an exclusive peek at how Leonard and Tim settle their disagreements.

So check it out in full: RPG Codex Interview: Community Interview with Leonard Boyarsky
 

Gregz

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Mozg

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What's your opinion on how the Vaults were changed from safe havens for humanity in Fallout to sites for wacky experiments in Fallout 2?

We (Jason, Tim and I) were the ones who came up with that idea when we were designing the story for FO2, and we liked how they added another layer to the dichotomy between the reality the government was selling the people through propaganda and reality itself. So we obviously approved of it as an idea. The ones we designed all had a dark edge to them, as if they could conceivably be twisted psychological experiments. The wacky ones came after we had left...

Fugg

Well at least they disown the truly Bethestastic ones
 

Athelas

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What's your opinion on how the Vaults were changed from safe havens for humanity in Fallout to sites for wacky experiments in Fallout 2?

We (Jason, Tim and I) were the ones who came up with that idea when we were designing the story for FO2, and we liked how they added another layer to the dichotomy between the reality the government was selling the people through propaganda and reality itself. So we obviously approved of it as an idea. The ones we designed all had a dark edge to them, as if they could conceivably be twisted psychological experiments. The wacky ones came after we had left...

Fugg

Well at least they disown the truly Bethestastic ones
Well, whatever helps you sleep at night.
 
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Black

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I really, really, really, really, really wanted to return to making single player RPGs.
Good thing he didn't pick Larian and inXile in that case.
 

KILLER BEAR

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Dishonored - great job of stylization over photorealism, making their characters and world realistic and painterly at the same time (something we tried and failed to do with our characters in Vampire), plus an interestingly different take on a steampunk type world.

Failed? More like they did it better than anyone else. Dishonored can't really compare, character models look too cartoony ( and also kinda weird/ugly).
 

Latelistener

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Was Jack inside the container on the Dane or did he enter the ship near LA?

I'm not sure what you're asking. At some point before it docked in LA, he came onto the Dane and did his thing, I didn't think that was a question we left hanging. Or am I missing something?
Wesp thinks that Jack had a team and together their raided the ship, killed the crew, edited the logs on the computer, and set up everything else to look more dreadful and mysterious, and that Friend guy who was sending you the emails was one of their team.

And I think that Jack was alone, boarded the ship long before LA, and was hiding inside the sarcophagus / container. Logs on the computer were original, and he consistently over several days of their trip was wiping out and terrorizing the crew, and when the deed has been done he was picked up by Cabbie, who was sending you the emails as Friend.
 
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vortex

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My take is they're making an Arcanum spirital succesor in Bioshock/Dishonored style.
Reason for this> if you're making a game in UE4, it won't be 2D, otherwise it would be an overkill.
So, 3D action cRPG in UE4.
 

Kev Inkline

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A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
This interview deserves a

KYZCLIP.gif
 

Anthony Davis

Blizzard Entertainment
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:bro:
 

Wayward Son

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Great interview Radek. A million Boyarsky Brofists to you! But one thing...

I am still envious that we weren't the ones who got to make a Fallout game where you explored the wasteland from first person.
So, Leonard Boyarsky wanted/wants to do a FP Fallout game? This brings up a host of other questions I am too lazy to think of at the moment.
 

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