was reading an interview from jason bergman and thought i'd bring up this little tidbit and apparently my tidbit iis most of the article read the bottom it mentions a decision in lonesome road changes the mojave. and also best weapons. also for the love of god please teach me how to make things bold and noticeable im so used to [b] [/b] i dont even know how i got the unmasking the gamers in white. thank you
Unmasking the Gamers: Jason Bergman – Bethesda game producer, father, and Superman fan
by Will Ooi on 08/18/11 09:43:00 pm Post A Comment
Posted 08/18/11 09:43:00 pm
Following the recent trend of Fallout-related interviews in the Unmasking the Gamers series, this edition features a discussion with Bethesda's Jason Bergman, Producer for Fallout: New Vegas.
WillOoi: Hi Jason, thank you very much for agreeing to take part in this interview. Please tell us about yourself, and how you ended up at Bethesda?
Jason Bergman: Gosh, that’s a long story. I’ll do my best to summarize my career, since it’s a long and probably not very interesting story. I started writing about games while I was a college student in the mid-90s for various online and print publications. When I graduated, did that full-time, and during that period I met some of the guys here at Bethesda (most notably Todd Howard).
Unfortunately the bottom fell out of the online advertising market and I was forced to get a day job to supplant my income as a journalist. That wasn’t much fun, so I looked around for a full-time job in games, which led to my joining Take-Two as a PR manager. I worked out of the Rockstar Games office on the non-Rockstar titles, and that team eventually formed what’s now the 2K Games label.
I enjoyed PR, but I really wanted to get more involved in games production, and in time they made me a producer. At 2K I was able to work on some pretty amazing projects, like the Civilization series, Sid Meier’s Pirates! and Bioshock.
In 2007, 2K Games merged their offices with the 2K Sports division out in California, which meant moving to the west coast. I stuck it out for a couple of years, but as a life-long New Yorker, I really, really missed the east coast.
So I contacted some people at Bethesda to see if there was an opportunity for me here, and sure enough there was, in the form of Fallout: New Vegas. The rest is some kind of history.
WillOoi: Please describe your role at Bethesda, and what your day to day work activities involve?
Jason Bergman: I’m a producer, which means I do a lot of stuff, and it changes a lot on a daily basis. My one-line summary of my job is that it’s my job to make sure a game comes out on time and doesn’t suck.
As for day-to-day, I work with Obsidian on concepts and general direction for the game and/or DLC and then make sure they stay on-track over time. I manage all the submissions to Microsoft, Sony and Valve (for 360, PS3 and PC respectively), I act as the go-between for our internal development team and Obsidian, I pay the bills, I manage the VO recording, I schedule all the patches and DLC releases, I work closely with our QA department…I could go on and on. The nice thing about being a producer is that days are rarely boring.
WillOoi: Fallout fans would recognise you from when you were out doing the rounds in promoting New Vegas in the lead up to its release last year. What is that experience like; going out there to face the lights and cameras and the often unattainable fan expectations? Do you ever get nervous?
Jason Bergman: My experience is somewhat different from a lot of developers, since I worked in PR earlier in my career and was a journalist before that. I remember vividly what it was like to be on the other side of the microphone, and that certainly helps. I also remember at the start of my PR days having to promote games that were…let’s just say not so great. But it was my job to go out there and sell them, and sell them I did, despite a sometimes very hostile audience. By contrast, being asked to talk about a game like Fallout: New Vegas is an absolute joy, so no, I don’t really get nervous.
When you have a game like New Vegas, which built upon the goodwill from Fallout 3, you can just show the game, or tell people the details they want to know and they’ll be happy. I didn’t find myself having to really push very, very hard to sell the game to people. And it was great dealing with fans.
WillOoi: Are you able to give us some insight into how Bethesda and Obsidian got together to discuss the making of New Vegas?
Jason Bergman: I started here at Bethesda after the game was already signed and just getting off the ground, but my understanding is that we had been friendly with Feargus Urquhart and his team at Obsidian, and were really just looking for the right project to work on together. With the team at Bethesda Game Studios working on Skyrim after Fallout 3, this just made sense as the right project at the right time. It sort of fell into place as a natural thing.
WillOoi: What was this experience of being go-between for Obsidian and Bethesda like for you?
Jason Bergman: It’s been great. Very early on the internal team established some basic ground rules for what Obsidian would be allowed to do within the Fallout canon, and they were pretty generous. Fallout: New Vegas is a very different game from Fallout 3, and it really branches out in several new directions both geographically and thematically. There was a careful balancing act with respect to lore and what has been done, or may be done in the future. It was challenging at times, but it was always fun to navigate those waters.
WillOoi: What are the likes of Todd Howard, JE Sawyer, Chris Avellone, et al like in person?
Jason Bergman: They’re all great, in their own unique ways, and all extremely talented. Todd has a very unique ability to get to the core of what makes a game fun and excise out the fat that bogs down a lot of games (particularly RPGs). Josh is particularly skilled at the fine art of weapon balancing. He’s also worldly and well educated, and you can see some of that come through in the New Vegas characters he took charge of (like Arcade and Chief Hanlon). I know he hates it when I point this out, but Chris is the greatest writer the gaming industry has ever known. Bar none.
In person they are men of various heights.
WillOoi: I really want one of those NCR t-shirts, or any Fallout merchandise at all to be honest. Real life snowglobes, for instance, would go down really well =) Are there any plans for an online store, maybe?
Jason Bergman: I don’t think we have any such plans, but we do regularly make shirts and swag to give away at the conventions Bethesda attends, like QuakeCon, PAX, E3, etc. If you want one, that’s your best bet.
WillOoi: You designed the Meat of Champions perk, which was a nice little secret touch within the game. What other content did you contribute in F:NV? And have you left any other personal touches or Easter Eggs in the titles you've worked on?
Jason Bergman: To be clear, I’m the producer. So while Meat of Champions was my idea, the scripting and implementation was done by Josh Sawyer.
I do leave my own marks on every title I work on, but they’re usually pretty boring, like things in the interface, or tutorial text or something you wouldn’t immediately notice (but totally stands out to me as having made the game a million times better). I’ve also done super exciting work like code PC installers. Again, not something most people care about, but important to the final product nonetheless.
On Civilization Revolution I wrote all of the achievement names, which was fun, since I made them all quotes and obscure references. Actually, that’s not true. I wrote the majority of them. My wife wrote one (“Have Fun Storming the Castle” was hers) and one or two of the others came from people around the 2K office. But of 50, I wrote probably 47 of them. And that was a lot of fun. Some really obscure quotes in there, and lots of fun historical references.
But getting back to New Vegas, Meat of Champions came about because one of my favorite character builds in the game is an evil cannibal melee guy, and I really wanted to make that style of gameplay as much fun as possible. In New Vegas you can kill (and eat!) every single NPC (excepting Yes-Man, of course), so this was obviously important. So we lowered the barrier to getting the Cannibal perk (down to level 4 from 12 in Fallout 3) and added more advanced perks like Dine & Dash, Ghastly Scavenger and Meat of Champions to really take it to the next level.
Having said that, there’s a challenge in an upcoming DLC release that Josh put in for me that I think might be even better. It’s a reference to a game I worked on earlier in my career, and just thinking about it makes me giggle. Hopefully someone will encounter it by accident, and not just by peeking through the GECK. It’s not quite as elaborate as Meat of Champions, but it makes me laugh.
WO: Several of the DLCs for New Vegas have had their releases pushed back, quite notably with the final one, Lonesome Road, being delayed on the eve of its intended release date. You mentioned that there were "lots of factors" involved - are you able to perhaps shed some more light on this? JB: Releasing DLC is a somewhat complicated process, in which the publisher, developer and first parties (Microsoft, Sony or Valve, depending on the platform) all have to work together. I can’t really go into detail on what happened to Lonesome Road, but as I said, it had nothing to do with the game itself.
It was really unfortunate that we had to delay Lonesome Road’s release. And it was personally painful, because I had been so adamant on the forums that it was going to come out in August. And even worse, my post about how it was coming out in August was picked up as a news item on some fan sites just days before we had to delay it (even though I had actually posted it weeks prior to that). So to someone reading those sites, one day I’m assuring the fans, then later in the same week I’m out there saying it’s not happening. Some of the comments about me weren’t very nice after that, and I don’t blame those fans who want to pin it on me personally. But it happens, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
After that bit of hubris, I absolutely refuse to even remotely suggest the month, week or year that Lonesome Road will be coming out. Our marketing team will announce the release date, but I won’t even hint at when that announcement, a trailer or our other FNV-related bits of news will be coming. It just seems like tempting fate.
WO: What are your thoughts on New Vegas' DLCs in terms of what they've each offered, along with your opinion of how they've added to the vanilla release? The goal with the DLC was to create four totally unique expanded experiences for the game, and in that regard I think they’ve all been really successful. One of the big complaints people have with expansions is that they’re too similar to the base game, so it’s really to Obsidian’s credit that they have created such interesting and different add-ons. I also find it interesting to read which ones are people’s favorites, because they are all so different from each other, from a gameplay and storytelling standpoint.
Personally, I enjoy them all. I think Honest Hearts has the best environment, Lonesome Road the best weapons,Dead Money the most intense gameplay, and Old World Blues the best characters. And the perks and weapons all carry over to the main game (not to mention the increased level cap), which is cool. Also, there’s a decision in Lonesome Road that affects part of the Mojave wasteland when you’re done with the quest. That’s really fun to play with.
DoctorJay 06:45, August 19, 2011 (UTC)