Obsidian Entertainment's The Outer Worlds reveal was a highlight of The Game Awards 2018. The studio has gained a strong reputation over the years for creating creative and absorbing role-playing games, and, conversely, The Outer Worlds shows many signs. He was directly inspired by recent entries in the Fallout series, one of which, New Vegas, was developed by Obsidian less than a decade ago. The Outer Worlds is also the brainchild of Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, two creatives with a historical history in PC gaming. Your most notable chapter by far? When they and a small group of collaborators created the original Fallout in the mid-1990s. But after continuing with Fallout 2, they had to watch as Bethesda took the series in their own direction. Despite being on Obsidian now, neither Can nor Boyarsky were working there at the time of New Vegas development.
We recently published a deeper dive into The Outer Worlds that talks about a closed-door demo, covering aspects of game history, character progression, and combat. In the interview below, we entered the mindset of the two co-directors. It is obvious from the start that they have Fallout in their brains, which lends credence to the suspicion that The Outer Worlds has some striking similarities.
On the other hand, it also moves away from the filth and filth of a post-apocalyptic Earth in favor of a world with vitality. As much as they are exploring ideas that are probably somehow linked to their days making Fallout, Can, and Boyarsky more excited about heading into unexplored territory.
Continue reading to hear their thoughts on the reunion after years and separate games, and where they hope to lead their audience when The Outer Worlds launches on PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2019.
What was the feeling in your gut that led to this revelation?
Tim Cain: We just want to show it. We have all these things that are fun or cool, but we couldn't talk about it.
Leonard Boyarsky: We are very happy with where it is. We think he looks great, we think he plays great. It is what we want to do when we start it, but at the same time you never know how people react. To finally be able to show it and see how people react is cathartic.
I think I've seen you [Boyarsky] quoted online saying that this is a "dream project". What aspect of this, you would say, is the dream?
Boyarsky: Oh, he's definitely working with Tim! [laughter] No, but it's okay; that's exactly what i meant. I worked on a couple of games before Fallout, and Tim worked on a couple of games before Fallout, but that was pretty much our start of work on games that we have creative control over. We created Fallout from scratch, basically we had complete creative control and we did what we wanted, the same with Arcanum. It had been a long time since we created an IP from scratch. We are very good friends, we complement each other's strengths and weaknesses very well. Not many people are lucky to find that kind of person to work with in their careers, and we were lucky that it was very early in our careers and we have great synergy when we got together and started doing these things.
We have never made a pure science fiction game. Fallout was science fiction, but it was more post-apocalyptic than science fiction. So it was one of those things where we are really great science fiction fans; I personally love fantasy, but I prefer science fiction if I have to choose between them. So it was strange that we could never have done one, and when this opportunity came up it was like, "Yes, I can work with Tim again and we can create an IP from scratch." Basically, it was this list of things that I thought … the next game I wanted to work on would be if I could say "this is what I want to do", and that was it.
If you can really put yourself back in your own shoes in the 90s, compared to today, what aspect of your current responsibilities do you love and what do you miss from those times when you worked in an attic, and …
Boyarsky: Well for me I still love the things I loved back then, creating a world from scratch is the best part of this. I love creating unique worlds with a unique feel and unique look. What I do have to say I miss is that when we did Fallout and Arcanum, it was a very small team. We have to do all the things we are doing now, but we also have to do … Tim did the programming, I designed, like a lot of art in Fallout. I was the main artist and art director, and I was also doing like in the game animations, modeling things, mapping textures. I didn't finish creating scripts in that one, but I wrote in Arcanum. Working in those little teams you end up having your hand in everything.
by [The Outer Worlds] We are much more directors. It is our vision, but we have many wonderful and very talented people we work with who have done things that, especially from an artistic point of view, I don't know if it would have taken it in that direction, but in a good way. We pointed them in one direction and they ran in directions we never would have anticipated. In a way, it is very gratifying because you feel like you gave people the germ of an idea and they have to make it their own, it returns to you and you see what people have done. But on the other hand, I'm not doing that every day. I am making sure that people are headed to the right destination and fulfill our vision of the game. I have been able to write, direct some artwork, but generally speaking most people are doing the actual nut and bolt work that we usually do day by day.
Dog: Also, one thing, in the 90s you could do things that nobody had done before, because everything was very young and it was a bit of the wild west of an industry. Now, every time you think of something and look, it's like, "Oh, this game did it. This indie game did it five years ago." It is difficult to think of something that is completely original.
We managed to put some things here that I had never seen done in a game. That way, I kind of miss that … the sky was the limit back then. If you could think about it, you could do it.
Boyarsky: Well, a perfect example of that is that when we made Arcanum, I didn't even really know what steampunk was. Now there is like all kinds of punk out there. When we started talking about this game and the settings, we had to be very careful not to fall for this predefined thing that has been done before. That is very important to us. We don't want people to see it and know exactly what this is, because people didn't do that with Fallout because no one had ever seen something like this before. Between now and then, there has been all kinds of mixing of different styles. I mean, I hope people were inspired by Fallout for some of those things.
Dog: We don't want to make Tolkien with machine guns. One thing I have done, every time I send a game I write a postmortem, just for me; not published I write a postmortem of everything I think went right and wrong, and I also take notes whenever I have an idea. So I reviewed them for this game and found some ideas from a few years ago that I would like to try. And this is what I thought went wrong with Temple, Vampire, or Fallout.
I even write, probably shouldn't, but every time I play a Fallout game I write a postmortem for it. I have a postmortem for Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and New Vegas, although I didn't work on them. So I read all those notes, to remember what I thought they did well and what I thought they did wrong. And that greatly influenced what I'm doing with this game.
How often, if any, do industry trends or audience demands filter into your priorities?
Boyarsky: Much less than we probably should. [laughter] We've always been very interested in making games that we don't think are out there. Maybe there's a good reason why some of them aren't out there.
Dog: We always like to joke, "Let's make the games we like and hope that people will play them." We have been trying to understand what people have been asking for. I know when we put together our combat system, it was very important that it be an RPG, but people really want …
Boyarsky: Yes, but it's one less thing we go to, "Look what people are looking for." We really don't want people to say, "Wow, this is a great RPG, you know the combat is fine, but the RPG role is great."
One of our goals is that we want combat to be fun. Obviously, our combat isn't going to be as good as Call of Duty because it's not what we're here for. So when we set out to do something like that, well, what would people think of a fun combat system? What do people want from a combat system that they would consider fun? I think we've been in that mode for years, but I'm not sure we've ever focused on those things as much as we have with this one.
I think it's much more than anything, I don't mean age, but the amount of time this does. Earlier, Tim said that when we set out to do this thing that is a conglomerate of the 1950s and Road Warrior and pulp science fiction, that was not something people had done before, or the very gray aspect of morality. and you can play how you want to play. With those things, because as Tim said it was a time when it was the Wild West where no one had done that before, now we have to look at what has not been served. We don't just want to break the old ground again. This is how we see what people might want or what needs to be done in other games. Sometimes you can even report, I don't want to say negative, but you can reinforce the opposite.
For example, many games are directed towards film narration, but for that you have to have an expressed protagonist. One of our main goals here, as with all the games we made together, we want people to be able to play this game the way they want to play. We want the person who wants to play to be an honest and honest hero who will never do something a little gray for fun and role play the way they want, just as much as the person who wants to play the psychopath who wants to play. Kill everyone on your way. Both should be fun. But if we choose a voice for you or a character for you that was premade, then no matter how much we let you modify it, I still feel like there is a part that doesn't decide for me. I think it is both: What do we think is really good that has not been done, but what are the things that people are doing? Do we want to take that or do we want to keep it in the old school because this is what we get from it?