Interview: Bethesda Talks 'Fallout: New Vegas,' Trademarks

Earlier today, Fallout 3 developer Bethesda Softworks announced "Fallout: New Vegas," a new title in the Fallout series of post-nuclear RPGs.

Not a true sequel to Fallout 3, New Vegas is instead a spin-off RPG in the same style under development at Obsidian Entertainment. Obsidian was founded by former members of Black Isle, the original developers of the Fallout franchise, making the project a unique partnership between Fallout veterans and the current series stewards.

Following the press event in London, I caught up with Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines to talk a bit about the project and other Fallout-related items.

Shack: When did Bethesda start thinking about a Fallout spin-off?

Pete Hines: It's something that we've discussed at night for a while, and just had talked about doing. And we said, well, if we're going to do this, we want to do it with the right kinds of folks, and the folks that could do right by it, have the right kind of experience, the right background.

Honestly, we just felt like Obsidian was a great fit for that. They have experience doing this kind of thing, they have guys that worked on the original Fallout games. We really liked their idea for what it is they wanted to do, and we just said, "Okay."

Shack: Was there ever a stage where it was an internal project, or was the intention always to hand the franchise to a third party and publish?

Pete Hines: The idea was, put aside for a second what Bethesda Game Studios is going to do going forward, as it relates to anything. Elder Scrolls, Fallout, no matter what--forget about that for a second and, if you do, would you do this if you could do it and not affect what they wanted to do? Could they peacefully co-exist?

And we felt like, yeah, we could work with somebody else to make a game like this and still let the Bethesda Game Studios guys focus on their next projects and the things that they're working on. And so we did.

Shack: What has Bethesda's attitude been in terms of allowing Obsidian freedom to create their own Fallout game?

Pete Hines: I think we tried very hard not to put much in the way of parameters on them. To let them kind of come up with the idea. So we didn't go to them and say, we want a game that is set here, and--we didn't do that. We said, "What would you do with it? If we were going to do this, what would you guys like to do?"

Shack: So you asked them for a pitch, as opposed to pitching them a project.

Pete Hines: Correct, correct. And honestly, generally speaking, that's how it works best, which is: you've gotta have people who are really vested in the idea that it's their creation. "This is what makes us excited. If we could do this, this is what we would want to do."

You may help them mold or frame that, but if that's what they're excited about, then that's what you should do. As opposed to, I come up with something that would be cool, and you go to them and they go, "Oh, okay. Well, sure." You're just not necessarily going to get the same passion or excitement from the team. And those are the guys who need to be the most excited about it, because that's what they're going to go into the office and be creative on and make for the foreseeable future.

But it was good. I think we were all on the same page in terms of the kinds of things that we wanted to do, and what it could be. And yeah, so now I want to play it.

Shack: Was this deal locked down fairly recently? I'm curious because up to the end of last year, Obsidian was working on the Aliens RPG, and they obviously had Alpha Protocol. I'm wondering if the Aliens cancellation was in any way related.

Pete Hines: I don't know. That might be a question for Obsidian whenever we get around to talking a bit more about it, but it was just something that we've been talking with them about for a while now, and working with them for a while now, and we felt like this was the right time to talk about it. We didn't want to wait until E3 and have it get drowned out in the noise of that.

Shack: Does Broken Steel mark the end of Fallout 3 DLC from Bethesda's end?

Pete Hines: We'll have to wait and see. Never say never, but the initial goal was we want to do three, and here's what we want em to be. And so we'll have to wait and see after that. [Broken Steel] was the one where it feels like everybody has been most looking forward to and waiting on, so we'll kick this one out and figure out where we want to go from there.

Shack: You guys trademarked the Fallout name for movies and television recently. Was that related to a specific project, or..?

Pete Hines: That's more part of, we spent a lot of time developing Fallout into something that is very hot. It has a lot of people's interest--

Shack: So you're just protecting it.

Pete Hines: --and we just want to be make sure that we're protecting what we created. And I can tell you, we've gotten a ton of interest about those kinds of things, not just with Fallout, but over the years. And it was just a, "Let's make sure that we're protecting what is ours and not letting somebody else do anything with it." So it's more of that, and it is not in response to any specific project or initiative or anything in particular.

Fallout: New Vegas is slated to hit PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010.

Check back next week for the second half of our interview with Mr. Hines.

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