J.E. Sawyer Social Interview, Continued

Obsidian Entertainment's Josh Sawyer has once again returned to his Formspring feed to answer some questions (primarily dealing with the Fallout series) sent to him by the community. This one in particular is simply disheartening:
You've been deeply involved in several canned projects in your career. How do you creatively and mentally move on from such a massive unfulfilled investment? Do you bring elements with you, or bury them and start over? [ps.Loved the original G:SS world.]

First, I don't believe any project will be signed until the ink is drying. A publisher's word is effectively worthless until a contract is finalized. Second, I don't believe any project will be completed until it's actually shipped.

I don't invest as much into projects as I used to because I eventually realized a simple fact: these projects are not ours. They belong to the publishers. If they want to change mechanics, cut the budget, chop half of the areas, demand a story re-write, push it out a quarter too early, or simply cancel the game -- they can.

What the publisher cares about is often not what the developer cares about, what what the publisher wants or needs is the bottom line. We are professional contractors doing work for hire, and forgetting that can lead to terrible burn out and disappointment.

And then a little something on his New Vegas contributions:
I know that you wrote a couple of the quests, including Return To Sender, but did you help write any parts of the main storyline of New Vegas? If so, what parts?

For the most part, I only wrote high-level documents. I didn't write any of the plot-critical characters and I didn't do detailed area development or implementation.

I wrote our RDC (Region Design Constraints) documents, which had a basic overview of the concepts/conflicts for all of the primary locations (e.g. Goodsprings, Mojave Outpost, the vaults, The Strip, Nellis AFB, etc.) and I did the initial write-ups for the companions (just a page each covering their basic concept, background, personality, voice, and intended plot arc).

Let me just do a mini-writing credits dump to answer a lot of common questions here. Most of the major plot characters (Benny, Victor, Caesar, Mr. House) and the main story itself were written by the game's creative lead, John Gonzalez. Eric Fenstermaker wrote Veronica and Boone. Chris Avellone wrote Cass, Lanius, and Oliver. Travis Stout wrote Lily and Raul. Most of the other characters, major and minor, were split between the writers above and other area designers. Of course the actual full design treatments, quests, and implementation of areas were done by the area designers.

The only "big" characters I wrote were Chief Hanlon, Arcade Gannon, and President Kimball's speech. Also I just wrote/structured the dialogue in GECK. The design, implementation, and scripting for the associated quests of those dialogues (Return to Sender, For Auld Lang Syne, You'll Know It When You See It/Arizona Killer) were handled by Matt McLean, Travis Stout, Jeff Husges, and Charlie "Master of Hoover" Staples.

Most of the content design and generation I did was for game systems (SPECIAL + gambling/Caravan + equipment).