With the upcoming DLC, you guys are actually going to change the ending, right?
EP: It's the third DLC, Broken Steel. We haven't said exactly how, but the game doesn't end anymore. We looked at the ending cutscenes, we looked at the states of the characters, and we debated, "Should we do this?"
Todd Howard and I had a conversation, and [realized] it would be more seamless than we had first thought. We looked at it, and said, "You know what? It feels pretty natural. It almost feels like this is the way it should have ended to begin with."
So, the game doesn't end, and it raises the level cap to 30. It adds new perks, new weapons, and new quests, too. And obviously it's a new quest where you're dealing with the Enclave. You're working with the Brotherhood of Steel to wipe up the Enclave remnants once and for all.
That must be bizarre from a design standpoint; I doubt that kind of decision gets made in games often. There are new cuts of films released all the time where the ending is changed, but not so much in games. It's almost like a mea culpa here.
EP: "Mea culpa" is kind of the right phrase, actually. Because, you know what? We've said this before, but we ended the game because we thought it should end. Other games end. And we wanted to balance it to level 20.
And while we realized that people saw this game as a sequel to Fallout; they saw it just as much as a sequel to Oblivion, and Oblivion didn't end. People expected that from us. Even when they reached the level cap, they didn't really care -- to them that was was secondary to adventuring more in the world.
How much does the development process change post-release when you move into DLC? I assume it scales down a lot.
EP: It's significantly scaled down. They're sort of micro-projects. People would be surprised at what goes on -- you come off a big project like Fallout, and it's a lot of work for the people who had just come off the game. It's not break time.
It's actually sometimes more work because you're working in these accelerated schedules. You're thinking, "Holy shit, I just have this much time to get this done? I gotta get cracking!"
It's certainly not the case where we took stuff out of the base game. We had meetings after Fallout 3 was out, and decided what the content was going to be. But Broken Steel, in particular, was a really interesting case study -- almost like a case study for the industry, I think.
You talk about player feedback -- so people didn't like that the game ended. Three or four years ago, if people didn't like that the game ended, we'd say, "We'll take that into consideration for the next game."
Now, you're reacting to that feedback almost immediately. We're able to, months later, respond to that player feedback and put out DLC. For us, it's been a tremendous success. We're actually surprised that more companies don't do it, but we also know how difficult it is to do.