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Falling Into Fallout 3: Director Todd Howard Talks Scope And Evolution
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Falling Into Fallout 3: Director Todd Howard Talks Scope And Evolution

October 13, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

I imagine one angle you could get from that is isolating is difference between things that just don't hold up now because of the game design that's happened since that occurred, and the things that maybe were flawed to begin with.

TH: From an interface standpoint, I didn't even look at that. You know, "Well, it's not going to have the same interface anyway." Anyone who was talking about the interface -- yeah, my eyes went right through it.

Especially because that's one of your first [steps], as you said.

TH: Yeah, yeah, it's one of the first things. We knew we wanted to do it -- the [HUD] comes up on your wrist.

Do you think that's something that games should be trying to do more? That transparency of interface, character creation in the world, and the UI integrated more naturalistically?

TH: Yeah, I think as far as interfaces go, a lot of games, frankly, do it a lot better, in that I'm really anti-clutter on the screen, with information. So I think we could actually be doing a little bit better job with it being contextual. You don't need to have your health bar up all the time when you're in a city and not hurt at all; you know, examples like that.

But we felt -- and we tried to do it in Oblivion, where you're looking at your numbers a lot in an RPG, and going through your stuff -- how do we make that visually stimulating, and not just a spreadsheet? So in Oblivion, you have your guy there, and you can move him around... In the original design, he was going to be doing lots of stuff. He would react, the character would react to what you were selecting, but that never made it in.

I mean, Fallout was, you know, "Let's do it as the [wrist interface] Pip-Boy and try to make it just feel alive." But I think more and more you see games blurring that. Like, one of the examples that I've been using for the ease of play -- and you almost don't know it until you really look at it -- [is] Grand Theft Auto IV. I assume you've played it.

You put the game in, and it just starts. There's no menu. You never select "Load, do, yes." When you put it in, the game starts, the credits roll, and when you take it out and put it back in, it starts where you were.

Actually, all the LucasArts games were like that, by the way.

TH: The current ones?

No, no. The adventure games.

TH: Ah, yeah. So, I think I like that stuff. And some people, they want to see all the information on the HUD at once, but I, as much as possible, I like it to not be there.

One of the defining gameplay aspects of Fallout 3 is that you've got the VATS system, but you've also got standard real-time "shoot a guy" going on. I suspect that there was some impetus to try to bridge the two worlds. Fallout was rigid --

TH: Stat-heavy, turn-based.

And here's what people expect from a modern video game. I mean, is that how you went about thinking about it?

TH: I think that would be pretty accurate, actually. We just felt like we didn't want to make it appear [like a] "shooter." We wanted the ability for you to see your character doing really cool things that you couldn't necessarily do. We tried that line with the Elder Scrolls, too, but it's mêlée, so it's kind of, you know... You don't have to aim that well; it's just sort of "swing the sword and hit the guy."

And we're always conscientious where we don't want whatever we're doing to only be for people who can handle fast-twitch stuff. Where is that line for, "Well, I don't have the dexterity to pull this off. I want to play my character, and get into him, and have my character on the screen have the dexterity."

So again, we're kind of on the edge of that with the stuff we do. And we like that. I like being on the edge, because we play a lot of first person shooters. We play everything, and believe that there's not a specific rulebook for, "This is your genre, and this is what you can do."

You know what? I actually don't know many people who are like, if you ask them what they play, "I only play flight simulators! Nothing else! No! Ever! Nothing!" Not, "I only play first person shooters, without any menus."

But we're conscientious that some people aren't going to be really good at the heavy action stuff, so we try to walk that line. We felt that we knew we wanted to have you stop the game in some way. In the beginning we didn't know how. "Do we slow it down?" But we knew that once you said what you wanted to do, your character was going to do it, and make it kind of cinematic.

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