GB: The storylines of Fallout 1 and 2 are fairly basic, non-linear, and remain in the background of the game itself. Have you stuck with this approach with Fallout 3? Or have you chosen a more linear, narrative style for the main storyline?
Gavin: We want all of our games to have a compelling central narrative to drives the events of the gameworld along. To that end, the central storyline is a bit more structured than the rest of the game. The more linear structure allows us to build in drama and character elements, which suffer in a more non-linear arrangement. That said, we took great pains to make sure that the player is minimally constrained in their exploration of the world and pursuit of the plot. There are very few places that are off-limits until specific sections of the story.
GB: In Fallout 1 and 2, certain dialogue choices could potentially close off or open quests and dialogue paths. Will we be seeing this sort of thing in Fallout 3? If so, how often does it occur?
Gavin: Yes, we tried to implement choice as much as possible. Virtually all quests in the game have some branching aspect to them, and you can and will lock off certain quests and their rewards depending on the choices you make.
GB: The Fallout games have always sported an interesting array of weapons and armor, ranging from Brass Knuckles to Alien Blasters and Leather Jackets to Advanced Power Armor. Can we expect to see many of the same weapons and armor in Fallout 3? And, aside from the Fat Man, have you added any new weapons or armor that you can tell us about?
Gavin: We have a vast array of items to find in the world of Fallout. Dozens of types of armor, all of which you'll see equipped on your character. Over 60 weapons total, including not only melee and ranged weapons, but also mines and grenades. We have a whole class of weapons that the player has to construct by finding schematics and parts. One of these weapons is the Railway Rifle, which uses some old metal piping and a pressure cooker to fire railroad spikes at enemies. The spikes can rip off body parts and embed them in nearby walls.
GB: We haven't heard a lot about Radiant AI in Fallout 3. What has changed with the implementation of Radiant AI in comparison to how it was handled in Oblivion?
Gavin: The biggest change is that we now have years of experience in how to best use it. The Radiant AI system is not just a simple system that instructs NPCs where to stand at what time. It's the entire framework that we use to create quest content in the game. Any action an NPC ever does runs through Radiant AI at some point. So what we've learned through Oblivion and Fallout's development is how to extract the best behavior from the system and get it onscreen where the player will see it. We now more activities that NPCs can engage in, and things like sandbox packages, where we can instruct an NPC to interact with anything they find in a particular area instead of standing around dumbly. It adds up to better NPC behavior and a more lively atmosphere in the game.
GB: Detail your approach to player karma and reputation a bit for us. Does Fallout 3 utilize a karma system without a separate reputation system? If so, what exactly does karma represent in the game - reputation, a mystical sense of good or evil, or a combination of the two?
Gavin: Karma could be considered to be reputation in some senses. At a basic level, it is a value that we use to track the sum total of your good and evil actions in the game. It's a way to communicate to the player which side of the line they fall on and to what extent. Certain characters will have different reactions to the player based on his or her karma. For instance, some followers will refuse to join you unless your karma matches their own personalities.
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