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Page 2 of 3GB: Fallout: New Vegas' backstory tells us Vegas was not hit as hard as other places, which explains how so much of the city was left standing. However, with the bright architecture and pristine interiors, how do you keep the game from veering away from retro-futuristic post-apocalyptic into retro-futuristic science fiction?
Brian: The answer is found partially in the question. The concept of "not hit as hard" gave us a lot of freedom to lighten up on destruction without completely doing away with it. In other words, even Fallout's most pristine areas still have a gritty aesthetic.
Joe: It was important to use color because it gives the game character and mood. It allows us to make areas more memorable. When used correctly color can enhance an experience and ultimately that's why it was so important that we stay away from muddy colors.
GB: When I think 50's world-of-the-future architecture, art deco and googie come to mind. We've seen both throughout the Fallout franchise, but titles like Fallout 1 and Fallout 3 had more art deco than they did googie. Am I right in thinking The Strip will feature primarily googie architecture? Is that Vegas heritage showing?
Brian: FNV does indeed have a Googie-style influence. We wanted to give the audience a real sense of Vegas and the time period, so we felt it was important to go that route and partially it's what anyone would expect Vegas to be. We pulled (just a little) from the 60's here and there as well, but Googie is what influenced us most.
Joe: The Art Deco movement started in the early 20's, during a period when many of the eastern cities were prosperous and growing. As a result it really influenced the skylines and the design movement moved to other areas, vehicles, furniture and appliances. So in many ways it captures the optimistic 50's period for which the Fallout franchise is known for, it nicely contrasts against the dystopian wasteland.
The west coast development really expanded during the automobile revolution and so not only was it a different time period, the nuclear age, but cities where now designed for folks traveling by car rather than by foot.
Since the real strip didn't really get fully developed until the early 50's, most of the hotels where designed in the Googie architecture style, a futuristic "Meet the Jetsons" type of architecture. In older cities, buildings are the visual focal point and building signs are small in comparison and more aesthetic then functional in their purpose. On the strip, the sign is the focal point and in many cases is as big if not bigger than the building itself. With folks now moving at fast speeds it was important for casino operators to catch people's attention well in advance to lure them in.
This is what we based all of our visual designs on for the hotels, so yes the heritage of Vegas is indeed reflected in the Strip of New Vegas.
GB: As far as item design goes, what overall philosophy have you employed to keep weapons from feeling out of place? How about clothing and other mundane items strewn about the desert?
Brian: I don't believe we ever had a problem with weapons feeling out of place. Inherently, we approached most weapons with the characteristics of the Fallout universe in mind. I remember we would occasionally find an arbitrary prop here and there that would seem too "modern", but those would quickly get dealt with. Once you have a room filled with items influenced by a 1950's era aesthetic, it's easy to spot a chair, rug or trash can that doesn't belong.
Clothes, for the most part, were handled by me and I would spend extra effort finding proper reference material to be absolutely certain the appropriate items of clothing were used. If a type of clothing were fictional, I'd reference materials and design elements used during forties and fifties. Still, with the sci-fi elements, we tried hard not to make them seem too modern and I often looked at home appliances, industrial machines and old pulp magazines of the fifties to pull ideas from. Any reference material I found was included with the concept for the modeler's to use as well.
Joe: There are two approaches, for items based on real life objects for example, the ballistic weapons. We base those off reference from that period to make sure it's accurate, then we think about its history, has it been locked up in a safe or did it get dropped down a cliff. Just about everything in the wasteland has a history and so we try to reflect that in the design.
Other times we try to tack on items to give it a more improvised look and reflect the dystopian reality of the wasteland. I'll give you an example for an old shotgun; the gun stock is cracked from being dragged around the wasteland, it has been fixed with a clothes hanger wire and to replace the cushion on the butt, a sandal has been fastened to it and holding the grip onto the barrel is a screw clamp. This mix and max of odd parts, as well as the history, add the right ingredients to make it fit in a world where nothing is pristine.
For new weapon designs, in particular the power weapons, we incorporate some of the same elements that we see in other Vault-Tec items. Even though minor, what we try to do is make it seem like the same folks that designed the Pip-Boy also designed the Reflectron and other items. The functional purpose of the item may be different but the aesthetics should be the same, knobs as opposed to sliders, monochromatic CRT displays etc.
GB: Fallout: New Vegas will feature a new selection of perks and bring back character traits. To accomodate these additions, have you created a lot of new Vault Boy poses? If so, are there any examples you can tell us about? Will any of the poses used for Fallout 1/2 traits be reused?
Joe: I think Brian can address this better than I.
Brian: I've done so many Vault Boys for FNV. I feel so lucky to be tied to such an iconic part of the Fallout universe. To answer your question though, there are many Vault Boys that re-use a pose, but for quite a few I did draw unique poses for or even added additional props and characters.