Strategy Informer had the opportunity to chat with Fallout: New Vegas lead designer Josh Sawyer during GamesCom about the current state of the RPG sequel, what they learned from Alpha Protocol's mediocre reception, the possibility that Obsidian will work on future Fallout titles, and more. A couple of snips:
Strategy Informer: Speaking candidly for a minute - your last game, Alpha Protocol, wasn't received that well. Has that affected the development of New Vegas at all?
Josh Sawyer: Well whenever you put that much time and effort into something, and there's all that negative opinion on it, it's kind of sobering and we think "Ok, this isn't a fluke here, we made some mistakes that we want to learn from". Personally I felt all along that we want to make the gameplay experience feel good - I know that sounds like a very simple thing but in some cases I feel like designers sometimes kind of internalise their opinions about something, and don't think from the perspective of the players. Is the player going to enjoy shooting? Is the player going to enjoy doing this kind of thing in the game? Are these objectives clear to them?
They seem really basic but sometimes I think they can be really difficult to pull off, and I think with Alpha Protocol people criticised things that were really basic gameplay elements. For New Vegas I was like "ok, we don't want to reinvent the wheel here", what can we just improve upon? A lot of people liked Fallout 3, so shooting mechanics, VATS, stealth... don't just break the mould and start again, how can we take what's there and improve upon it? We want players who are coming into it to feel like this is similar to what they've seen, but better.
Strategy Informer: This is just a personal observation, but apart from Alpha Protocol, and now New Vegas I suppose, Obsidian has had a history of doing sequels to other people's games. Was that a choice on your part? Did you even notice that trend?
Josh Sawyer: I think the thing with making sequels to other properties is that we understand RPGs and RPG tools very well, and because we're an independent developer. You won't see Bioware doing the sequel to a Fallout game because they're owned by EA. So because we're one of the last independent developers we have the flexibility to do that. If some other team wants to move on and not want to make a sequel, we have the ability to move in and do it for them, and that's cool.