Emil Pagliarulo talks shop at GDC, explaining the design process of Fallout 3, his own background and how to get into the industry.
Later, he gave some behind-the-scenes insight about the making of Fallout 3. Since Bethesda is just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC, he and the rest of the design team--which was led by Howard-- wanted to have the game set in the capital city. (The original Fallout games were set in Northern California.) Pagliarulo also said that they spent a long time carefully crafting the introductory narration for actor Ron Perlman (Hellboy), who narrated the original Fallout games.Spotted on RPGWatch.
Since Pagliarulo and Howard both had young kids, they wanted a father-son relationship to be central to Fallout 3's story. He found it particularly ironic that the script had just been completed when Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road was released in 2006. "It's basically the same story--a father escorting his son across post-apocalyptic America," he said.
In terms of writing, Pagliarulo said he resents professional writers coming in and trying to write a game when they don't play any. He disdains cutscenes and "too much text," preferring to tell the story through gameplay. Throughout, his top priority is player experience, from the moment they look at the game's cover to the time they finish the main quest.
"If you're like me, you're reading the game manual in the car coming back from the store," he explained. "We want the experience to start there."
Howard also vetoed a Fallout 3 level which would've been among the most ambitious of the game. It would've seen Enclave forces launch an all-out assault on Rivet City, the settlement inside a rusting aircraft carrier anchored in the Potomac. Players would've been tasked with escorting its inhabitants to the Citadel, the nearby Brotherhood of Steel stronghold in what used to be the Pentagon.