Page 1 of 2After much prodding and poking, we were finally able to pull Chris Avellone away from his grueling Neverwinter Nights 2 schedule for a quick chat about his previous experience working on Fallout 2, Fallout 3 (Van Buren), and more. The exchange:
GB: You were offered a chance to work on the original Fallout, but declined. Who actually offered you the position and what were the circumstances that kept you from joining the team?
Chris: Tim Cain offered me the position (and I sadly suggested he ask Scott Bennie instead), but I couldn't because I was working full-time on Descent to Undermountain and Planescape. I would rather have ditched DTU, frankly (and I asked to be transferred a year before its release). The people working on it were all solid, but the underlying engine with all the modifications that had been done to it was bad news, as I'm sure people found out. The engine just wasn't meant to make that kind of game, and it had all sorts of headaches with it. I eventually asked Ferg if I could transfer and work on Planescape full time.
GB: What was your role on Fallout 2? Which areas of the game did you work on?
Chris: I was an area designer, responsible for Vault City, New Reno, the Raider Camp, and most of the Special Encounters. I inherited Vault City from 2 previous inheritors (Leonard, then Ferg), but there was still plenty of room to flesh it out, which was fun. I was also supposed to do the EPA, but that got cut.
GB: Had you played Wasteland or Fountain of Dreams before joining the Fallout 2 team? If so, did either of these titles influence your work on the game?
Chris: Wasteland - many times. Fountain of Dreams - not at all, though it was in the queue for playing for Fallout 3 research. A lot of the Wasteland research was going to factor in to the puzzle design (just general feel, not specific puzzles) for the EPA.
GB: What was it like to be a part of the Fallout 2 development team on a day-to-day basis and what was the general "mood" of the development team as the game progressed? Any fond memories you can share with us?
Chris: It was pretty hectic, but fun. We had a really tight timeframe, and even though it was exhausting at times, having everyone pull together on the frontlines to put things together gave everyone a lot of momentum. It didn't do much for my health when combined with being on Planescape (I gained 30lbs and strange chest pains), but I was able to recover.
But back to Fallout 2... I guess the most exciting part of it for me was that I finally got to do characters, dialogues, and more exploration-style-playground elements and learn how to set up all the templates and scripts for what I considered a true RPG was like. A lot of the layout stuff factored into the organization for Planescape.
GB: Looking back, is there anything about the development of Fallout 2 that you would have liked to change? Was any content removed due to cost or time constraints that you would have liked to see implemented?
Chris: Less in-jokes, it's a pretty immature way to design a game (it's a design directive here at Obsidian that we don't do in-jokes or cultural references). We ran out of time at the end to do everything we planned (it always happens), so some locations had to be downscaled or cut. I did want to have the EPA location in the game (I put up a rough area doc of that way back when for a Fallout Bible entry), but it was better for the game getting done that we didn't put it in. I also wish there'd been more time for the Raider Camp, which was pretty empty.