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Editorial The Origins of Fallout - Part 1


Staff Member
Apr 4, 2009
Tags: Fallout; Interplay; Wasteland

No Mutants Allowed put up the first part of an editorial on the history of Fallout, written by no one else but R. Scott Campbell, Lead Designer of Fallout. Great read, brimming with anecdotes about different RPG devs and Interplay.

While I struggled with Sim Earth, Tim had proposed the idea to management to make a new RPG based on the GURPS license. Yes, from what I hear, “What’s a GURPS” was actually asked by someone. Tim sold them on the idea that because GURPS is a generic system, once we make one game, we’ll be able to reuse the core mechanics to make any other kind of RPG. Somehow they said “Yes.”

Steve Jackson, a legend in the pencil-and-paper gaming world, created and owned the rights to GURPS. However, Steve had been burned by games before. In the past two of his great IPs were turned into Apple II games: Autoduel and Ogre. Ever since, Steve Jackson games had been inundated with developers wanting to turn their beloved IPs into computer games – and failing miserably.

When Interplay approached Steve Jackson Games for GURPS, they were extremely skeptical. They were told of the long line of great RPGs that Interplay had made. No response. They were told that they would have creative control over the game. Still no response. Then they were told the up-front license money they would be getting. Suddenly, there was a response.

With GURPS given a green light, Tim assembled a team, and (because SimEarth was just canned) chose me as the Lead Designer. It was a bit of a rocky start, as much finagling was needed to secure people for the team from other projects.

Once the contract was signed, Steve Jackson came to the studios for a meet and greet with the team. I remember him being extremely cool with our overall ideas about handling the game. One pointed question was, “What do you think about blood and violence in the game?” With a smirk and a wave of his hand, he answered, “The more the better!”​


Codex Staff
Staff Member
May 29, 2010
That uh... script at the end. That was horrible. Was Fallout a happy accident?

Brian Fargo addressed the crowd and told everyone that how well the company was doing. But, he especially wanted to point out that the 10th Anniversary was a huge seller, responsible for 60% of the company’s sales that quarter. Bill and I stood proud. Brian continued by saying that the 10th Anniversary project wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the dedication and hard work of two people. Burger and I grinned in anticipation. Brian continued, thanking two of the marketing ladies who helped to distribute the product. Burger and I stood and gaped. Not to belittle the job of marketing, but after scavenging the code, rewriting executables, creating installers, laboriously digitizing the manuals, for ten whole games, all under a massive crunch – I felt as if I was kicked in the man-bits.

Long before I ever heard the term “Jump the Shark”, I began to see some warning signs of Interplay’s continued success. I sensed a change in the management. There was a shift from a passion for game making, to a desire to make Hollywood-style cinema. We changed from the old adage of “Shoot for the moon. Here’s a nickel.” to “How can we make this experience more like watching a movie.” It began with Stonekeep (which started as a throwback to the old Bard’s Tale, but became a nightmare of “cinematic experience”), and exploded with the Sim-CD series (Interplay’s remakes of SimCity, SimAnt, and SimEarth in CD-ROM format with lots of movies) and the horror show that was “Cyberhood” (an interactive movie that became a black hole of funds.)

Fuck you Fargo, here's how much I'm going to pledge for Wasteland 2: Zero. You made your bed, sleep in it.

Crooked Bee

(no longer) a wide-wandering bee
Jan 27, 2010
In quarantine
Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
A wonderful read, thanks!

EDIT. Too bad R. Scott Campbell hasn't been involved with anything worthwhile lately, as is customarily the case today with all these cool devs of the past. :(


phase-based phantasmist
Mar 14, 2011
Definitely a cool read.

You now find yourself in a dystopian cyberpunk genre where velociraptor punks hack the net with cybernetic implants and brontosaurus bouncers flex their augmented muscle implants. Weird? Yes. But kinda cool.


So, after several quests – rescuing a dragon from a princess, protecting a dungeon of peace-loving orcs from rampaging heroes, and delivering flowers to the underworld – the sorceress finally helps you. She hands you three potions. She says to drink the red one, give the blue one to the monkey, then drink the green one.
:lol: Laugh all you want, but I would play this kind of story over any emotionally engaging experiences of today...


Mar 24, 2004
Up Yours
Wasteland 2
I thought the script at the end was good although it was pretty silly. Would have made a great King's Quest style point and click adventure game.

Brother None

inXile Entertainment
Jul 11, 2004
I thought the script at the end was good although it was pretty silly. Would have made a great King's Quest style point and click adventure game.

I think Tim Cain mentioned it a few times too, as the "time travel plot", but it was never plausible even if toned down, budget-wise.

It's certainly not what you would call a deep story, but it does sound entertaining.

Bruma Hobo

Dec 29, 2011
R. Scott Campbell said:
For example, I was hired to replace a playtester named Feargus Urquhart (the same Feargus who later ran Black Isle and is CEO at Obsidian). So I inherited his game, Castles 2: Siege and Conquest. Gus had mastered that game to such a level that new rules had to be programmed to prevent his abuse. For instance, in one story, he succeeded at killing the territory owned by the Pope; something considered impossible to the developers. After that, they created a rule that the Pope’s land could not be seized by any player. Of course, that meant I had to outdo him - by being excommunicated, yet still capturing all enemy territories. I figured that after a thousand years of game-time, I was as good as king.

They never fixed that :lol:


Jan 17, 2008
That script was a surprisingly entertaining read and had a very satisfying end. I could see some modern indie-game pulling it off, though it seems more in line with an adventure game than anything else.
In My Safe Space
Dec 11, 2009
Codex 2012
So, they have started with a Bioware plot. And they haven't even noticed the massive dark irony potential. The cultists could have sacrificed the PCs darling to awaken the player hidden in the crystal.

The roots of "cinematic" Decline are strong.
I thought that everyone knew about the FMV mania of these times? Anyway, I was browsing old gaming magazines from that time and one difference was that gaming magazines back then tended to complain about dumbing down and cinematization instead of glorifying it.

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