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"Oh shoot, I've said too long" - Fallout co-creator Tim Cain reveals his role in the cancellation of Van Buren, the original Fallout 3

"As we walked out, he basically explained that any answer over six months was going to result in him having to cancel it."

Tim Cain alongside an Enclave soldier in Fallout 2.
Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios/Tim Cain

Original Fallout co-creator Tim Cain has revealed that he played a role in the events that led to the cancellation of Fallout Van Buren, the codename for the original version of Fallout 3 which was in development at Interplay-owned Black Isle Studios in the early 2000s.

If you need a refresher, this took place back in 2002/2003, a good few years before Bethesda bought the IP and went on to make the Fallout 3 we actually ended up getting. Cain had actually left Interplay at the point the game was being developed, having departed to start a studio called Troika Games after working on the first two Fallout games.

Now, in a video on his YouTube channel, (thanks, IGN) Cain has revealed that in the middle of 2003, an unnamed Interplay vice president asked him to come and play the current prototype of Van Buren.

"I don't think they can get [the game] done," Cain cites the VP as having said of Van Buren during this call to him, "so I’m just going to cancel it. But if you look over it and give me an estimate, there’s a chance I wouldn’t cancel it." Admitting that a number of collegues at Troika advised him not to get involved, Cain says that he ultimately decided to, reasoning that if he did, there would at least be a possibility that the Van Buren team wouldn't have to go through their game being canceled.

Cain played the prototype for "about two hours" and asked the team a number of questions about it before being asked by the vice president to deliver a verdict as to how long it'd take the Van Buren team to complete the game, and make it shippable.

Watch on YouTube

"I said 'I’m convinced in 18 months you could have a really good game shipped,’" the developer recalls, "He said, ‘Huh, could it be done any faster?’ And I was like, 'Oh shoot, I’ve said too long.' I said, ‘Well, even if you did a death march crunch I don’t think you could do it faster than 12, and then you’d be shipping something that was unbalanced and buggy, and the team would be destroyed. So I don’t recommend that.’"

Cain says that the vice president thanked him for his input, then "basically explained [that] any answer over six months was going to result in him having to cancel it, meaning the answer I just gave got the game canceled. But he was going to cancel it anyway. He thought it couldn’t be done in six months, and I just confirmed that to him.”

The veteran developer concludes by citing the story simply as an example of how rough game development can be, especially when things ultimately come down to money. "[Interplay was] running out of money," he adds, "[The vice president] could not afford a development period of more than six months, and to me, that time period was out of the question."

In other recent Fallout-related news, DLC-sized New Vegas mod Fallout Nuevo Mexico has just been officially confirmed to be "on hold", following a period of radio silence.

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