Comic Book Resources chatted up Obsidian's Chris Avellone about the design decisions that were made during the development of Fallout: New Vegas, as well as his contributions to the game's "All Roads" graphic novel.
For fans of the "Fallout," what are you keeping from the previous installments and what new innovations are you adding?
(Fallout 3) was well-received, so we didn't want to mess with the elements that made it great. In "New Vegas," we just wanted to make sure there was more to do, not change the existing systems the player had come to enjoy from (Fallout 3.)
We have new reputation mechanics (factions in the game remember what you've done for and against them and respond accordingly), weapon mods, new skills, new applications of old skills, improved companion interfaces for easier companion control, traits from (Fallout 1) and (Fallout 2,) new weapons, new perks, companion quest arcs, and an open-world-style storyline that lets you decide where you stand in the Mojave wasteland - and who stands against you.
While you've worked on a number of games praised for their stories and secondary character development, and early in your career you wrote Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, this is your first run at doing a graphic novel. How do you feel the graphic novel format is well-suited to the story you want to tell as opposed to telling it in-game? How is writing a graphic novel different than designing a game?
In a role-playing game, especially for "Fallout," you need to design characters and events that can be approached from any direction, any faction allegiance, any character skill set and set of attributes (stupid brute, sneaky thief, silver-tongued scientist), and any order in the storyline. This can be challenging to design, so much so you may be telling three or more stories with a character depending on how they react to the player - but that range of responses are what role-players enjoy.
Graphic novels, in many respects, allow more focus, and provide more opportunity to introduce a specific theme, along with elements of the background of locations and characters that players may not have a chance to see in the game. As an example, in the graphic novel, we're able to showcase some of the history of the Great Khans through the perspective of one of their own, something that can be difficult to do from a player perspective in the game, but not from a reader's perspective.