GameBanshee interviews Obsidian artists Joe Sanabria and Brian Menze about their work on Fallout: New Vegas.

GB: Fallout: New Vegas' backstory tells us Vegas was not hit as hard as other places, which explains how so much of the city was left standing. However, with the bright architecture and pristine interiors, how do you keep the game from veering away from retro-futuristic post-apocalyptic into retro-futuristic science fiction?

Brian: The answer is found partially in the question. The concept of "not hit as hard" gave us a lot of freedom to lighten up on destruction without completely doing away with it. In other words, even Fallout's most pristine areas still have a gritty aesthetic.

Joe: It was important to use color because it gives the game character and mood. It allows us to make areas more memorable. When used correctly color can enhance an experience and ultimately that's why it was so important that we stay away from muddy colors.

GB: When I think 50's world-of-the-future architecture, art deco and googie come to mind. We've seen both throughout the Fallout franchise, but titles like Fallout 1 and Fallout 3 had more art deco than they did googie. Am I right in thinking The Strip will feature primarily googie architecture? Is that Vegas heritage showing?

Brian: FNV does indeed have a Googie-style influence. We wanted to give the audience a real sense of Vegas and the time period, so we felt it was important to go that route and partially it's what anyone would expect Vegas to be. We pulled (just a little) from the 60's here and there as well, but Googie is what influenced us most.

Joe: The Art Deco movement started in the early 20's, during a period when many of the eastern cities were prosperous and growing. As a result it really influenced the skylines and the design movement moved to other areas, vehicles, furniture and appliances. So in many ways it captures the optimistic 50's period for which the Fallout franchise is known for, it nicely contrasts against the dystopian wasteland.

The west coast development really expanded during the automobile revolution and so not only was it a different time period, the nuclear age, but cities where now designed for folks traveling by car rather than by foot.

Since the real strip didn't really get fully developed until the early 50's, most of the hotels where designed in the Googie architecture style, a futuristic "Meet the Jetsons" type of architecture. In older cities, buildings are the visual focal point and building signs are small in comparison and more aesthetic then functional in their purpose. On the strip, the sign is the focal point and in many cases is as big if not bigger than the building itself. With folks now moving at fast speeds it was important for casino operators to catch people's attention well in advance to lure them in.

This is what we based all of our visual designs on for the hotels, so yes the heritage of Vegas is indeed reflected in the Strip of New Vegas.

Meanwhile, Lightspeed Magazine has an interview with Chris Avellone, including some questions about his work on Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas.

Have you ever written a quest or character that you loved but for whatever reason could not implement in the final game?

Yep, it happened in Fallout: New Vegas. There’s a character on one of the trading cards, Ulysses, who was supposed to be a companion. Oddly enough, tearing him out of the game was almost as hard as putting him in because companion scripts touch almost everything (and he also was a complicated character in terms of some of the hooks into the storyline). Maybe he’ll come back at some point. I miss him.

What were the highlights of the development process of New Vegas?

There were a few things, in no particular order:

–Having a chance to play Fallout 3 for research.

–The owners brainstorming the “box” for New Vegas in terms of what elements the title should have (Vegas as signature city, start with a reversal from Fallout 3, Fallout elements, etc.).

–The first time I saw Dinky the Dinosaur in Fallout: New Vegas and walked into his belly, and then into his mouth to look at the Mojave wasteland.

–Getting to meet Felicia Day and getting my Guild DVD signed. And listening to her talk about killing bunnies in Red Dead Redemption.

–This is a little random, but marketing support from Bethesda, and how it changed my opinion on game development marketing and how much it can help your title when they are involved early and they understand the title. They didn’t just meet us halfway, they did more than I’ve ever seen a marketing department do in all the companies I’ve worked with. As an example, one of the first marketing meetings I’d had for the game was very early in the development process, and during the meeting, the head of PR/Marketing said “I’ll start playing the builds so I can demo this myself,” which amazed me. Then he did it. You’d be surprised how often marketing doesn’t want anything to do with talking about or demoing a title, they leave that to the developers. Bethesda really stepped up in all these aspects.
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