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Welcome Back to Fallout

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Welcome Back to Fallout
AuthorTodd Howard
PublisherBethesda Game Studios
Release Date2007

Welcome Back to Fallout is a Fallout 3 development blog published in 2007.



Welcome Back to Fallout
Todd Howard
Executive Producer

When we started Fallout 3 in 2004, we obviously had big ideas of what we could do with it, and I talked to a lot of outside people, from ex-developers to press folks to fans. What made it special? What are the key things you'd want out of a new one? The opinions, and I'll put this mildly…varied. A lot. But they would all end the same, like a stern father, pausing for affect – "but do not…screw it up." Gulp. Let me write that last one down a few times.

I'm going to assume that if you're reading this, you've probably read between 1 and 50 previews of Fallout 3 already (they're linked on this site). There's already too much info out there, in different forms and in conflicting ways, for me to cover or correct it all here. If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that the information never gets out 100% correctly, and you will certainly never be quoted correctly. For the record, I never compared the violence in Fallout to Jackass, I compared it to Kill Bill…big difference. I also never said "fantasy is riding a horse and killing things," but oh well. Ultimately the game speaks for itself (certainly better than I do). The other thing to keep in mind is that preview comments often circle around the small-footprint sensational elements (Fat Man, toilet drinking, bobbleheads, etc), while sometimes missing the key points of the hour-long demo we give, which are: player choice, consequence, sacrifice, and survival.

Survival is a key theme of the game, not just for you, but for the characters living in the world. The no-longer-simple act of survival, and the uniqueness of it, gives each character special meaning. What has each one sacrificed to do so? You have to find water sources to drink from, and balance your health and radiation levels. There are countless sources of water. Yes, the game has toilets (just like…the real world), and if you want, you can drink out of them. That's a better solution than saying, "sorry player, you can drink all water types but this one." Don't confuse a preview mentioning toilets with what we're focused on.

I hope over the next year you'll come to see this website as a good place to get information on the game, right from us. Please know it's going to be a slow trickle all the way up to release for a few reasons, 1) the game is a long way off yet, and 2) we mess with the game until it's done. If something big changes that we've already discussed, we'll do our best to let you know. Suffice it to say, you should have more then enough info when the game hits the shelves to decide for yourself if Fallout 3 is worth your time and money.

The massive expectations of what this game means to everyone who loved Fallout, RPGs, and gaming-in-general is not lost on us. It's impossible to discuss the game with anyone without them referencing Oblivion and/or the Fallout legacy. In many ways, it's the sequel to both games. It's our "next" RPG after Oblivion while also being the sequel to one of the greatest games in the history of electronics. No pressure. We hear from everybody. If you have an opinion on what/how the game should be done, I guarantee we've heard it. From "don't change a thing, make it exactly like the others" to "I don't care as long as it has mutants," and every permutation in between.

If you know us, you know we work by a few key philosophies, and "reinvention" is one of them. I've seen too many things I once loved fall down the hole of numbing repetition, missing the innovation and flair the 1st one had. We tear down The Elder Scrolls each time and rebuild it, trying to find new ways of presenting the ultimate-fantasy-world-do-whatever-you-want-sandbox game each time. I guess I'm a product of Ultima 4 through 7, where I was at my "I can play games all day" period of my life. I saw Richard Garriott reinvent that game each time, from the interface to the combat to everything else. If any game is going to have the same impact it had years before, it must use new ways of doing it, because time changes not just the technology, but most importantly, the person viewing it.

And that's how we approach Fallout - find its spirit, the feelings it left you with, the impact it had when you first played it, and make that happen again…ten years later.

I also read the old reviews, which is a great way to get insight into how a game made people feel at the time. It's fun to read what stuck out to people back then, not just the world and its choices, but things that may look aged now, but were state of the art then; such as the SVGA graphics, the characters talking with full voice, and the over-the-top death animations. None of that registers now, but for 1997, the game certainly used the latest tricks to pull you into the world.

Obviously we had the old games to look at, and Fallout 1 became our main model and inspiration. I always preferred the tone of it, and it's the one we focused our time on dissecting. We also went through all the original source material, as well as the "Fallout Bible," put together by Chris Avellone, whose work is always fantastic. But one of my favorite sources, when we received everything (yes, everything) from Interplay, is the original "Fallout Vision Statement", back when it was called "Fallout: A GURPS Post Nuclear Adventure." This is the document detailing what Fallout was to be, and is a 14-point bulleted list. Here they are, in order, with direct quotes (enjoy – I know I did):

  1. Mega levels of violence. "When people die, they don't just die – they get cut in half, they melt into a pile of goo, explode like a blood sausage, or several different ways – depending on the weapon you use."
  2. There is often no right solution. "Like it or not, the player will not be able to make everyone live happily ever after. "
  3. There will always be multiple solutions. "No one style of play will be perfect."

The others are: "The players actions affect the world.", "There is a sense of urgency," "It's open ended," "The player will have a goal," "The player has control of his actions," "Simple Interface," "Speech will be lip-synched with the animation," "A wide variety of weapons and actions," "Detailed character creation rules," "just enough GURPS material to make the GURPSers happy. The game comes first." That one is actually crossed out in the document, as they dropped GURPS, and lastly:

14. "The Team is Motivated" "We want to do this. We care about this game and we will make it cool."

Ten years later and I don't know that I would change a word of what we want to do today. Especially that last one. We have an incredibly passionate and amazing group here; I've been privileged to work with many of them for over a decade. Hopefully in another 10 years people will look back and say, "Nope, they didn't screw it up." Hopefully.
2077 - The Fallout 3 Team enters Vault 101