Fallout fans got a fascinating look at what might have been thanks to a recent presentation from Van Buren designer Chris Avellone.
Before Fallout went to live with Bethesda, it was Interplay’s baby. The developer had big plans for a third entry, which it codenamed Van Buren, before the company fell on hard times.
Speaking at the NYU Game Center’s Practice 2015 conference, as reported by Polygon, Avellone gave some insight into the cancelled project – which still fascinates long-time series fans today.
Avellone tested many of his ideas for the third entry in the series as a pen-and-paper role-playing game, and some of them were amazing. For example, the NPC companions the player would recruit into their party would make independent decisions which would affect the world around them – so rather than just having the player making consequential choices, so too would the AI.
I can’t think of any game with a feature like that, and I’d love to know more about how it worked. Would player choices influence the AI’s attitudes…?
Alas, as we all know, Van Buren was shelved, and Fallout 3 was developed by Bethesda as a first-person RPG – eventually leading on to Fallout 4. Swings and roundabouts.
One detail from the presentation that may lift the spirits of old-school Fallout fans is that some of Van Buren did eventually see the light of day – as Fallout: New Vegas. Some NPCs in Obsidian’s RPG were lifted from Avellone’s original Van Buren design notes. Nice.
Polygon’s full report is well worth a look for any Fallout or pen-and-paper RPG fans. There are images of the meatspace game on Tumblr, too. DMs take note!