Todd Howard has been at publisher/developer Bethesda Softworks since the days of Elder Scrolls: Arena, the first game in the series -- released in 1994 for the PC. Now serving as game director of Fallout 3, it's his job to forge the twin legacies of that fan-favorite series and the lauded design of the Elder Scrolls series into one cohesive product.
Fortunately, Howard seems confident about his ability to do this. In the revealing interview below, he frankly discusses the contributions of the original Fallout games, as well as how developing Oblivion for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC shaped his approach to Fallout 3.
Have you found making the game for multiple platforms simultaneously to be any more or less difficult than, for example, with Oblivion, which was on similar platforms but not all at the same time?
TH: Definitely much, much easier than Oblivion, because we've already been through it. So, Oblivion on both the 360 and the PS3, the games came out within a few months of launch, so you're not spending long on final hardware. Now we know how they work, and now we have enough code that works on those systems that it's easier.
So I'd have to say that it's easier, but still a significant amount of work, because we've changed a lot of things in the tech. It's a little more manageable, I guess I'd say. We know what's involved more, as opposed to, "I have no clue how this is going to work!"
Has the difference in balance of scale changed that process at all? I know that when I've talked to Pete [Hines] in the past, he's said that you guys are really focusing on a little less scope but a lot more depth. How does that play out, from a development standpoint?
TH: Well, the game's gotten a lot bigger, so it hasn't gone any differently there. It has almost as much content as Oblivion, but in different ways. One of the metrics we use: our data is relatively the same size -- we're using similar tools and things -- and the main data file for Fallout is much larger than Oblivion.
That tells us that we've put a lot of stuff in -- whether that's rocks, or whatever, I don't know; I haven't really analyzed it. But there's 20, 30 percent more dialogue in Fallout, so that's a lot of stuff to record. We've gone through the same process there, so that's still a ton of content.
Right, but that's more dialogue for fewer NPCs?
TH: Right, right, so you're getting a much bigger bang. A lot of specific voices, a lot of deep dialogue trees. We felt that that was a Fallout hallmark that we had to do.