How To Write A Post Apocalyptic RPG, The Fallout: New Vegas Way

It starts with a box, says the developer of the follow up to the hugely successful Fallout 3. Oh, but don't call that box a post apocalyptic role-playing game. That's a pretty crappy way to describe it.

So says, Fallout: New Vegas lead creative designer John Gonzalez, the man responsible for the over-arching story in the game. Obsidian calls that "box" the "series of parameters that the story will take place in." It's a concept, a set of boundaries within to work.

Gonzalez talked about the key influences and key components of Fallout: New Vegas at Comic-Con today, saying that a Fallout game is not just about barren wastelands and mutants, but "ultimately about your experiences" in the world, how you interact with characters and how you overcome obstacles, whether through brains or brawn or stealth tactics.

Crucial to the success of Fallout 3 experience was its signature city, a decimated Washington D.C. So, how did Obsidian settle on a post-nuclear Sin City?

"We were all pretty drunk one night and we thought, not only should we go to Vegas," Gonzalez joked "we should make it the setting of the next Fallout." When Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart asked Gonzalez to be the creative lead on the game, he likened it to a religious experience.

Gonzalez, who claimed he was first in line at his local GameStop for the midnight launch of Fallout 3, said "It's like God coming down to you and saying 'Hey John, I'd like you to write another chapter of the Bible, take it in any direction that you want.'"

The Fallout: New Vegas creative lead said the books that he drew inspiration from included Las Vegas: An Unconventional History and Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The "non-Brad Pitt, de-Clooneyfied Ocean's Eleven" and indie flick Six String Samurai were his noteworthy film influences. Gangster Bugsy Siegel, the Rat Pack and eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes were also influential. Gonzalez said to pay attention to characters throughout the game to see if you can spot their New Vegas counterparts and the influence of the "Giltter Gulch old style Vegas."

Gonzalez said he immersed himself in the first three Fallout games, replaying each and going on a 14-hour-long writing bender at a local coffee shop "vomiting forth the first draft of the Fallout: New Vegas story treatment."

That said, "no one can get this right on the first try," he stressed, saying that writers should "write and write and write" to perfect the story. Or, to put it more bluntly, "sit the fuck down and write."