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The Gamasutra 20: Top Game Writers

February 20, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 11 of 21 Next

Emil Pagliarulo

Lead Designer, Bethesda Software

Notable projects

Fallout 3, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Thief 2: The Metal Age

Project focus

Though he has gotten a lot of attention recently as both the lead designer and the writer on the much-anticipated Fallout 3, Emil Pagliarulo spent several years as a journalist before joining Looking Glass Studios as a level designer.

There, he contributed to Thief Gold and served as a designer on Thief 2: The Metal Age. He followed the Thief series to Ion Storm in Austin and continued to work as a senior designer on Thief: Deadly Shadows.

For the past several years, however, Pagliarulo has been at Bethesda Game Studios, where he served as a senior designer on the Bloodmoon expansion to Morrowind, and the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, on which he was responsible for the Dark Brotherhood and Arena quest lines.

While it may sound like Pagliarulo has more experience as a game designer than as a game writer, it's important to remember his time in non-fiction before entering the game industry.

Culminating with his work on Fallout 3, he's returning to writing and combining it with his newer craft: video games.

What stands out

Pagliarulo has clearly brought to Fallout 3 a solid combination of writerly and gaming mentalities.

The game combines a familiar landscape -- a post-apocalyptic wasteland of society -- with elements normally found in a novel, like a cast of believable if minor characters and details that make this world, far from cliché, colorful and alive.

Our take

"Pagliarulo disproves that old theory that game designers shouldn't write their own games. That adage only holds true when the designer isn't a good writer to begin with.

Though "game journalist" certainly doesn't translate to "good writer" in a one-to-one ratio, it does indicate an interest in writing. And it doesn't hurt that after writing what many thought was the best part of Oblivion, the company saw fit to let him lead the charge in Fallout 3.

The dialog here is relatively consistent, with impressively nuanced trees and choices that feel important within the game world. Pagliarulo gets my vote for most ambitious game writer of 2008."
- Brandon Sheffield, editor-in-chief, Game Developer magazine

Article Start Previous Page 11 of 21 Next

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