Hot on the heels of the last interview with Fallout designer Chris Avellone, I had the privilege of speaking with the Vault's and NMA's own Tagaziel. Having had my own run ins with him in the past, I thought it was time we found out more about the man himself behind that avatar.
The full interview can be found on my blog.
WillOoi: Hi Tagaziel, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. May we start by finding out a bit more about yourself, for instance where you're from, your background, and what you do with yourself on a current day-to-day basis?
Tagaziel: I'm bad at these kinds of introductions, so bear with me. I am 23 years old, I come from Poland and at the present I am finishing my law degree at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.
Apart from that, I'm a happily wedded husband who's now enjoying his freshly earned free time after finishing a contract with the Central Statistical Office. As part of the summer vacation programme, I'm passing time with games, books, movies and of course spending time together with my wife. This is the last time I'm going to enjoy such free time, so I try to make the most of it.
WillOoi: What are some of your interests? Sports, movies, books, music, etc.
Tagaziel: I have a great many interests (I'm easily distracted, y'see), but they usually oscillate around historical subjects (politics and wars especially), science-fiction, gaming and interesting stories. It's a general rule when it comes to my entertainment: interesting story and/or setting. As you can imagine, that includes a lot of titles: games, comics, books etc. And a great deal of other random subjects.
Looking for interesting stories is surprisingly addictive, but I don't complain.
As a side venture, I draw stuff sometimes. And write stuff. And develop a science fiction universe. And drive cars. And work with my dogs. There's a lot of side ventures in my life.
WillOoi: Work with dogs? Some more information, please!
Tagaziel: My family runs a small welsh corgi pembroke breeding kennel, named Pembdrive. We always had an affinity for dogs, but it took corgis to get us into the dog show and dog breeding business. It's been a great adventure too, although I'm lousy at showing dogs; my brother is far more adept at this, as is my mother. I do have a certain degree of skill in training dogs (under a competent lead, of course), so I'm not a total failure of a dog owner. :)
We have three corgis in our house: Scotty, Elizabeth (abbreviated to Lilly) and Amos. Scotty is the eldest, widest and most awesome (although all of them are) corgi in the lot and has the most titles, including a finished polish Championship, several Best In Show awards and CACIB certificates. Elizabeth, the tricolor, is my personal favourite, as I raised her from a puppy. She is a bitch, both literally and figuratively, but she's awesome all the same. She is also a decorated dog show veteran, with a finished polish Championship. Amos, her son (Scotty isn't the father, though, it's all a bit... complicated), stayed with us, while all the other puppies found new owners. He's the only sable corgi in our homestead and he's devastatingly cute and derpy.
They really brighten everyday existence. The daily life of three dogs is better than a soap opera, believe me.
WillOoi: Fallout aside, what other games do you enjoy, and what are your absolute favourites?
Tagaziel: My second most beloved series is Command & Conquer, for which I also run a wiki (EVA Database on Wikia). After Fallout and C&C come a lot of other favourite games, including the Deus Ex series, Wizardry 8, Morrowind, Arcanum, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, Syndicate series, Blade Runner, Master of Orion II, Unreal, Wasteland, Strife, Battlezone... I've got a lot of favourite games.
WillOoi: People reading this are probably thinking it straight away and so, I'm just going to come straight out with it: you may often come across as, from just a few examples of the adjectives I've seen that have been used to describe you, 'abrasive', 'confrontational', and 'argumentative'. What's your take on how people see you online? And ... [shudders]... are you like that in real life?
Tagaziel: This is a surprisingly hard question to answer. Not because I don't know what to say, but because it is hard to express. At it's core, I do not concern myself with how people view me. I am unimportant, it's my work that matters, my writing. If what I write makes at least a single person think about the subject, then I've achieved my goal and I can safely say that my bastard attitude isn't useless. People lack the ability to think critically nowadays, I find it necessary to hammer it back to life.
In real life, I think I'm a pretty nice, easy going person. Well, as long as you're not trying to debate a subject I'm very passionate about with me. Then... Then it gets interesting.
WO: How did you get into Fallout in the very beginning, and what was that experience like for you?
TAG: It all started in 1996, with the Fallout demo, published on Gambler’s cover CD (a now defunct Polish games magazine). Back then my english skills were still fairly rudimentary, but I understood it well enough to finish it on Baka’s side, after stealing her minigun. The memories are cloudy, but I remember the impression it made on me, the stunning graphics (the aesthetics, not the overrated realism), the gameplay, the entire mix. It was like a sledgehammer. I started reading all about Fallout, to the point of spoiling it for myself, reading everything I could find, replaying the demo over and over again. I recall I managed to procure a full copy of Fallout 1 two or three years later, from a relative. I installed it and… It delivered. Fallout was an experience unlike any other and to this day only a few other games managed to come close to repeating it. I was hooked.
WO: What are your thoughts on how the series has progressed over time, taking in the change in development teams from FO1 to FO2, the cancellation of Van Buren and collapse of Interplay, Bethesda buying the licence, through to New Vegas being done by Obsidian and returning the series to many of its original creators?
TAG: I was too young to pay attention to the change in development teams between Fallout and Fallout 2, for me all that mattered was that it was Fallout 2. However, I was old enough to notice that by the time of Van Buren most of the old timers left. I wasn’t too phased by it, as I always prefer a wait-and-see approach to instant condemnation. When the first Van Buren materials started leaking I was confident that I was looking at a game that would at least be equal to Fallout 1, if not better. When it was cancelled, I learned the hard way just how tough it can be to cope with disappointment. It became even tougher when NMA acquired the design documents for most of it and I learned just how truly great it’d be.
When Bethesda bought the licence (the highest bidder, not the only one, as many clueless people postulate) I think I was one of the few old timers who adopted a “wait and see” approach, even though I considered Oblivion to be a travesty (being a fan of Morrowind). Sadly, Fallout 3 embodied everything I didn’t want Fallout to become: a shallow adventure with flat characters, scaled down to fit into a continuous 3D map. I really missed my worldmap.
That, I guess, is the single worst thing Bethesda has done to the franchise. Without a worldmap the world either needs to be very limited or scaled down a great deal. Bethesda opted for the latter and, well, we got DC with a “clown car” syndrome, devoid of any versimilitude. The classics at least created the illusion of a larger settlement, by the virtue of being isometric, by leaving parts of settlements off-camera. Fallout 3? Not so much.
But I think what I miss the most is the variety afforded by a worldmap. If you look at Van Buren, we have places like Boulder Dome, Dog City (Denver), Bloomfield, Reservation and the Nursery, all connected by a worldmap. In Fallout 3? Suburbs and city environs, all because the designers are limited by the size of the gameworld and the lack of a worldmap.
This flaw persists in New Vegas, although it is compensated by greater skill at storytelling, character and location design. It seems that Obsidian simply ignored the technical limitations of the engine and designed the environments without paying much mind to the scaled down nature of the Mojave. It would’ve been better with a worldmap, though – Vegas wouldn’t feel compressed as much as it does now and the distances would feel much more natural.
Read more about Tag in the full interview