My Fallout 3 thoughts answered, somewhat

1UP has a really interesting interview up that touches on a couple of questions and complaints I had:

On Tenpenny Tower, and my complaint that even when you negotiate a reasonable solution everyone gets killed:

1UP: On a related point, is there a way to finish Tenpenny Tower where the Ghouls can move in, but not end up killing everyone?

EP: Nope, there’s not. For us, it was about reinforcing to the player that, you know, the Capital Wasteland is a brutal place, and sometimes, not everything is black and white — or has a completely happy ending. If that’s not the essence of Fallout, I don’t know what is.

Oh. It would seem that this is a deliberate choice in the design where I didn’t understand what had happened, rather than a failure of the events.

And on the

1UP: Somewhat related to that: Why are companions not an option for inputting the Project Purity code? You already have the option to have Sentinel Lyons input the code in your place. There are three viable options for an alternate to input the code: Fawkes, Sergeant RL-3N, and Charon. The player has already experienced a situation where Fawkes can enter an irradiated room and perform a task, RL-3N should follow his programming to obey you, and Charon would not only become healthier due to the radiation, but he’s established as essentially a slave who will do whatever his contract-holder orders him to do. To the player, the inability for either to input the code seems really contradictory.

EP: That’s a great question, and one that’s obviously come up quite a bit in different forums. Let me try to shed some light on why the game is like that — it’s a pretty interesting look inside the development process.

All of the followers were implemented into the game fairly late in development, after the main story had already been nailed down. So, you know, we had the scene at the end of the game, with deadly radiation, and never really compensated for the fact that you could have a Supermutant, or Ghoul, or robot, who could possibly turn the purifier on for you. We’d only ever planned for you sending Sarah Lyons into the purifier, because we knew, from a story standpoint, that she’d definitely be in there with you.

What we could do — and what we did ultimately do — is cover that stuff in dialogue. You can ask those followers to go into the purifier, and they’ll tell you why they won’t. We felt that fit with their personalities, but really, they didn’t “sell” that to the player in a single line of dialogue. So, in the end, the player’s left with a, “Huh, why the hell can’t they do it?!” sort of feeling.

So the story does kind of break down. But you know what? We knew that, and were OK with it, because the trade-off is, well, you get these cool followers to join you. You meet up with Fawkes near the end of the game, and it’s true you can go right with him to the purifier. So we could’ve not had him there as a follower, and that would’ve solved the problem of him not going into the purifier — because, at that point in development, that was the only fix we had time for. But we kept it, and players got him as a follower, and they seem to love adventuring him with. Gameplay trumped story, in that example — as I believe it should have.

So if we’d planned better, we could’ve addressed that more satisfactorily. But considering how it all went down, I feel good about the decision we made there.

That’s also interesting — I’m not sure that there wasn’t a better story-based way to resolve it, but at least this was a conscious choice to add followers at the cost of a satisfactory ending.

That raises a new question, though: how can the ending be considered less important than gameplay that some players enjoy unless the story’s regarded as secondary to the game? And if that’s the case, then what’s the point of having the main story at all?