Fallout Developers Profile – Jesse Heinig

In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that every RPG should have?

An RPG is a role-playing game, so you are playing a role – that is, you are making choices about the protagonist. In some RPGs the only choice you make is which stat to increase when you level up. A good RPG, I feel, gives you more meaty choices. To do that, you must do three things:

  1. Establish a setting with versimilitude. It doesn’t have to be a simulation of reality, but it needs to have enough internal consistency that the player buys into it. Then the player can feel “grounded.”
  2. Create groups or individuals about whom the player has a sense of investment. In Fo3, you are trying to find your father, and since the entire tutorial section has interactions with your dad, this establishes a tie and a sense of character investment . . .
  3. Give the player choices that impact that setting and that investment. The “slideshow” at the end of Fo1 (and now at the end of many an RPG) gives you a sense of closure . . .

Interview with one of the people who made the first Fallout such a great game.