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Here is a interview with Chris Avellone. He talks about the game and reputation a lot. Link and transcript below. Note: You can also see the loading screen adverts on the wall.
When I was working on it, the goals of that title were...I had always recognized that the biggest group of adversaries that you're likely to face, that have a chance to really mess up the world, that's another player adventuring party. So part of the focus for Van Buren was, I wanted the player to have a series of rivals in the game that weren't necessary a enemy. They were someone you were competing against with different goals. They weren't necessary evil, what they were...they had a different agenda than you. (...) There are still some references to Van Buren in terms like names and various organizations you encounter in New Vegas. Like Ceasar's Legion for example came out of one of our pen and paper gaming sessions that was done for Van Buren while I was doing that production work. All that stuff, you'll see little trademarks of that in New Vegas, but the context is much much different there than in the original conception.
My favourite thing in New Vegas, there's actually a sort of high-level thing that I like about it. One is that New Vegas has no evil bad guy. What it does is sort of put the player in a situation, then the player decides what faction they believe in based on their philosophy and their actual repercussions of their philosophy on the environment. For example NCR, very democratic, seem like the good guys, but when you go around the wasteland, you sort of see all the after-affects of what they're trying to do, and it really sort of makes you question whether they're really the right thing for the wasteland or not. (...) So I worked on Fallout 2 and designed a location called New Reno as one of the areas in Fallout 2. What I learned from that experience is...what you want to do when you're designing areas for the campaigns like Fallout, is you want to make sure that no matter the character build or how they've constructed their character, you want the actual environment to react to it. You also want to make sure there's plenty of quests, and ways to solve those quests to compliment the character builds. So I guess in terms of the New Reno design, we actually try to make sure those elements are present in the area design for Fallout: New Vegas. New features focuses on, well, new features. MCA explains the Fallout setting, the New Vegas setting, the Strip, it being a sequel, the Strip being more thanfour Megatons, adaptive narrative, new skills, the reputation system. Nothing new for people who've been keeping up, but a good quick refresher if you haven't. Well, if we're to draw any comparison between Planescape: Torment and Fallout: New Vegas, I guess it would compliment what we've been trying to do at Obsidian Entertainment. That is, we try to make sure that when you have characters in your title, in other words the companions in New Vegas, we try to make sure the people that travel with you have really rich, deep personalities. They have questlines, they can comment on their perspectives of the factions in the environment and basically act as more than just your gun-toting sidekicks.
In terms of easter eggs that could be showing up in New Vegas. We haven't included anything from previous titles, like Planescape, or not from Fallout 2. You will catch references to Fallout 1 and Fallout 2. I guess the Easter Eggs for the special encounters you may have encountered in Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, we actually have a trait that is solely tied to that and it's called Wild Wasteland. The Wild Wasteland trait, what it'll do is, it'll actually open brand new encounters across the wasteland. It's solely an optional thing that if you want to choose it, you can actually have these special encounters that have references to pop culture, other game references. That's something our project director Josh Sawyer felt very strongly about, so when we put it in the game, people that encountered it at the studio are pretty excited about it.”