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The folks at RPG Codex have put together a series of questions and forwarded them to Leonard Boyarsky, a recent hire at Obsidian but a developer with a very long history in RPG development. Boyarsky has worked at Interplay, Troika and Blizzard on titles such as Fallout, Arcanum, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, and Diablo III.
During the interview, Boyarsky answers a few questions on his current work at Obsidian, before moving to his older projects, with interesting info on Fallout and its sequel, the planned ideas for an Arcanum sequel, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines and its cut content, and the project he's currently working on.
It sounds like Boyarsky is pretty excited about his current project too, which I'm going to take as a good sign. A little excerpt on that and the early Fallout 2 concepts (Boyarsky ended up not seeing the game to release because he moved to Troika, the company he founded with Tim Cain and Jason Anderson):
Why did you leave Blizzard?
I really, really, really, really, really wanted to return to making single player RPGs.
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.
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...
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.
And a tidbit on Troika's mysterious post-apocalyptic project:
What can you tell us about your plans for gameplay mechanics and story in Troika's cancelled post-apocalyptic cRPG? Do you still have the tech demo? If so, could you share it?
We only had gotten as far as that demo. It was an engine test to show what a new post apoc game might look like, most of the models (except for the player) were just cobbled together to give an initial feel. Not much thought had been given to it beyond that.