An Interview with Damien Foletto – Part 2 of 2 – Project Van Buren and more…

by Joseph Avery-North and the Winterwind Staff

Winterwind had the opportunity to catch up with Damien Foletto recently for an exclusive two-part interview. In Part One, Damien talked about his start in the gaming industry while Part Two covers Damien’s involvement on Black Isle’s ill fated Project Jefferson (aka Baldur’s Gate 3) and Project Van Buren (aka Fallout 3) and cover the period up to his current position as a designer with Raven Software.

Winterwind: Jefferson (the code name for Black Isle’s Baldur’s Gate III) originally began production before IWD2, while TORN was still under development. (Note: Unfortunately Stonekeep 2, TORN, Jefferson [Baldur’s Gate 3] and Van Buren [Fallout 3], four partially developed crpgs never lived to see the light of day.) Did you have any involvement with Stonekeep 2, TORN or Jefferson at this stage?

Damien Foletto: No. When I first came on to IWD2, I just worked on IWD2. TORN had already been cancelled, as well as Stonekeep 2 by the time I came on. Jefferson (Baldur’s Gate 3) was being conceptualized and by Josh Sawyer during IWD2’s development. After IWD2 shipped, some of us were transferred to Jefferson – I was one of the “transferred,” though I did request to be put on that project.

Project Jefferson aka Baldur’s Gate III: The Black Hound…

WW: There was a lot of speculation/rumour about the dog in the IWD2 movie and references made to Maralie regarding Jefferson. Was there any story or character connection between IWD2 and Jefferson?

DF: Sure was. Josh can give better details than I since it was his story, but Maralie was going to be one of the player’s potential party members, but all grown up (wouldn’t be very useful if she was still a kid, eh? Unless she was like “The Omen” or something, but that’s a different story). The dog, or “Black Hound,” was an integral part of the story line. It represented a haunted past of a main bad guy’s selfish indiscretions and non-accountability. The hound gets spiritually bonded with the player through circumstance and is a non-too-subtle reminder of the player’s actions throughout the game. Too bad this hound isn’t real. I can think of one political leader who needs a bit of haunting about now.

WW: The rumoured title of the game was “Baldur’s Gate 3: the Black Hound”. Was this the actual intended title or a “red herring”? Are you able to tell us the significance of the dog?

DF: That was the working, and most likely final, title. See previous answer for hound-isms.

WW: There was a story going around that the plot was somehow connected to Terry Gilliam’s movie “Brazil”. Is this true and are you able to tell us anything about the plot of the game or about the areas you were working on?

DF: I know Josh was a fan of “Brazil,” and I know that there were ideas that were borrowed, but BG3’s story was original. As for plot, here’s the Cliff Notes version of Jefferson: You’re a wandering, non-chosen-one sap caught in a rainstorm. You seek shelter under a nearby tree adjacent to a dilapidated windmill. As you shiver next to a campfire, a crazy lady and her rogue minions crash your party chasing a large, black hound. An arrow kills the hound and it flops on your lap. The crazy lady, who looks like a cleric by the way she’s dressed, accuses you of being in cahoots with the hound and threatens to kill you as well.

Luckily, Rides of Archendale(sp) come to your rescue and scare off the mad woman cleric. However, your troubles have just started because you’re hauled away for questioning. After a brief inquisition, the local magistrates tell you not to wonder far because they may have more questions. And so begins your adventures to find out who the mad cleric was, what this has to do with you, why a black spirit hound now follows you around, and why can’t people just leave you alone and do things for themselves.

WW: It’s well known that Jefferson, while using the name “Baldur’s Gate”, was unconnected to the Bhaalspawn Saga. Jefferson was said to have a level cap at 8th level and it was rumoured to be the first of an “epic trilogy”. You made post on the old IPLY/BIS forums; “We already mentioned that there is plenty of room for a new D&D game, and that we’ll be making quite a bit more between now and when our contract is up in 2005 (we can even start new D&D projects in 2005).”. Was a trilogy the intention?

DF: Yes.

WW: A fan on the old IPLY/BIS forums asked if Jefferson would be a “revolutionary crpg”. J.E. Sawyer replied; “I don’t think I’ve ever said that Jefferson would be revolutionary; revolutions can only be appreciated in retrospect. I think Jefferson will be very evolutionary”. A lot of work was put into the roleplaying aspects of this game, including a very involved reputation system. A similar influence/reputation system recently made it’s way into KOTOR2. Considering Obsidian was formed by a large number of former BIS developers, in your opinion was this something “borrowed” from the concepts for Jefferson or something created independently and specifically for KOTOR2?

DF: I can’t speak for Chris Avellone, but I imagine he used this idea in KOTOR2 based largely on his own experience at BIS. It’s a great roleplaying tool and helps give an RPG more depth. It’s something every one of the designers at BIS tossed around during dev meetings.

WW: There’s an old expression “there’s nothing new under the sun” or as John Lennon once said “all art is rehash”. Jefferson was considered to have many innovative approaches to crpgs. What are the odds of concepts similar to those for Jefferson appearing in future games and how original (or derivative) will they be in your opinion?

DF: If the governing suits at publishing companies are convinced that the average RPG video game player has the attention span of a two-year-old hopped up on Fruit Loops, then you won’t be seeing a whole lotta depth in upcoming RPG games, save MAYBE in the story-line. It’s all sales dependant. If one RPG game has a lot of depth and complexity, but sells only a handful of units, while an action-RPG game with all the depth and complexity of a Dixie cup sells 5 million units, then the publishers will demand developers make the Dixie-cup version, plain and simple. “No #@!&, Foletto, tell me something I don’t know!” I’d like to tell you something different, but then I’d be lying. It will take small, independent developers and publishers to make the deep, rich RPG’s your readers and I long for. KOTOR2 sounds like it’s going in that direction, but not having played it yet myself (I’m waiting for the PC version), I can’t make an informed opinion.

WW: Were there any particular innovations for Jefferson you think other developers should consider in future crpgs?

DF: I don’t know if I’d call these “innovations” since these are concepts and ideas played around with in many old-school CRPG’s, but the things I’d like to see in future RPG’s are:

Non-linear game play: True non-linear, not just reserved for a chapter or two. The player decides which direction to move his own story. Want to go to town C before A? Go for it. Want to poison the water supply to a village because you’re an evil SOB and that’s how you get your jollies? Do it, do it now.

Repercussions for action AND inactions: Everything in life has a repercussion of some sort, in RPG’s it’s just more pronounced. Help one person out; you might piss someone else off. Burn down the local Alchemy shop; you have a horde of bummed out druids hot on your tail. Help the magistrates with their financial woes; discover that the local townships have now hit a financial backlash that threatens to ruin the local economy. Find out that the local wannabe warrior has been imprisoned by the evil Sir Toppem Foozle and the Duke wants you to rescue him, but you forget about the quest and do something else; discover later that this wannabe warrior had the special ability to perform something that could be really useful to you in a situation, but now you’re hosed and have to think of something else – not to mention the Duke really hates you and the wannabe warrior is now the main villain in the sequel. In a nutshell, have the side quests have meaning and influence, however small, on the overarching character development and story of the game.

Character creation: Let the player create their own character, from how they look in the game world, to their abilities and skills. I don’t care if the game is level based or purely skill based, just let me create my character so I can have ownership of this character. Give me opportunity to reaffirm my character development during the game. Ego-stroke me by rewarding my character creation and development throughout the game through multiple paths to quest completion.

Multiple paths for quest completion: I don’t want to do quests where I feel I have to figure out what the designer intended. Give me multiple paths to quest completion. Make me feel like I am clever and came up with a unique solution to a quest. Sure, it’s an illusion since everything in a game is “designed,” but with multiple ways to solve a quest (and I mean more than just two ways) it creates a feeling of accomplishment when I piece together what I perceive as a unique solution to a quest. It’s that ego-stroking thing I was talking about.

Reputation: Falling into a similar category as my repercussions example above, I want to have a reputation for deeds done. I want to develop influence with a town as well as with my NPC companions, be it for good or ill, through my actions and inactions throughout the game.

The return of turn-based combat: I know good RPG’s can be made using real time and phased real time, but on a purely selfish note, I really would like to play some good, old-fashioned turn based combat. I love to sit and strategize, and some of my best RPG gaming moments came from turn-based conflicts. Troika’s “Temple of Elemental Evil” had the best implementation of D&D combat in any game, including BIS/Bioware games, in my opinion, and I would love to see more RPG’s using this model.

Good and evil path: Pretty self-explanatory. Let me choose whether I develop my character down the path of dark or light. But on this same note, let me change my mind during the game as well. Allow me to atone for my sins or seek unholy vengeance during the mid section of the game. Make the path to atonement/vengeance special, difficult quests – quests that prove my intent and conviction in changing my focus. It all goes to customizing the play experience of the gamer, making the character they made their very own.

Shades of grey: Don’t make everything so cut and dry good and evil. Nothing adds to a story line like implementing shades of grey. Sometimes one has to do a small evil for the betterment of the whole, so the player must weigh whether or not it is worth it to him to sully their reputation with one group just to save another, or everyone. Or conversely, the player must wipe out what looks like a decent township to further their evil cause, but it turns out that wiping out this township saves the lives of all the do-gooder towns in the region because of some burgeoning plague in that town. Allow the player to make these difficult decisions.

WW: Had Jefferson lived to see the light of day, as both a designer and gamer, how do you think it would have stacked up against Black Isle’s previous D&D titles?

DF: It would have toppled them in both depth and overall game play, I have no doubt. It would have been RPG of the year. Granted, this is my opinion based on what I know from the project, but as a gamer, I would have thoroughly enjoyed playing the game. I would have liked more than just 8 levels in the first outing, but that’s just a style preference.

WW: Sadly, Jefferson was cancelled when Interplay lost the rights to make Baldur’s Gate titles for the pc platform in exchange for an extension on their Baldur’s Gate console contract. Did the design team see this coming or was it a complete surprise?

DF: We kind of had an idea this was coming down the pike. There were rumours floating around and things were getting unhappy on the team because of it. There’s nothing like putting a ton of work into something and knowing it is eventually going to be cancelled to further another project.

Project Van Buren aka Fallout 3…

(It would have been so nice…)

WW: With the cancellation of Jefferson, the crpg team at BIS immediately switched to work on Van Buren (Fallout 3). Fallout 3 had started development on at least two prior occasions according to various sources. Was Van Buren a continuation of any of the past attempts or something entirely new?

DF: A little of both, I believe. Having not been involved in the first two false starts, I cannot really say for certain.

WW: As every Fallout fan knows, the story of Van Buren has the player falling asleep in one prison cell and awaking in another, not knowing how or why they’re there, and managing to escape into the desert being pursued by robots. There was also a mad goddess with a cult of worshippers. Can you tell us any more of the story line?

DF: I’m sure I’ll miss a lot, but I’ll try. The overall story involves the player discovering he is a carrier of a nasty virus that if it does not kill you, it makes you sterile. After “escaping” the prison because of a strange assault by what looks like NCR soldiers, the player immediately has the freedom to go where they want. During the course of his adventures, the player discovers that in order to get the prison robots to cease their pursuit, the player must hunt down and retrieve several escaped prisoners and return them to their cell, where the prison computer checks off the prisoners from its list.

The player later discovers that returning the prisoners conveys to the computer where the prisoners went to and how far the virus has been spread throughout the wasteland. Once enough prisoners have been tallied, the computer unlocks an orbiting nuclear missile station and begins a countdown to “cleansing” the land. As it turns out, this is the situation the main bad guy wants, because he wants to “cleanse” the earth’s surface (at least the American portion) so he can start the human race anew. The player is then tasked with finding a way to the orbiting station to stop the bad guy – or help him, if he so chooses. I’m sure I forgot quite a few things.

Oh, and the orbiting station looks like the round, spinning 50’s conception of orbiting stations and the rocket that takes the player there looks like a cone-shaped rocket with fins; very 50’s as well. In fact, the concept art was based on 50’s illustrations from pulp sci-fi publications from the time. No space shuttles, to quell the sceptics.

WW: Considering your experience with FOT and your feelings on robots in games (see PT1), how did you feel about the robots in Van Buren?

DF: When the project first launched (with me involved) the robots were very prominent in the game. Luckily, that changed through dev meetings and me speaking out against it, as well as other devs. The robots remained, but they were not close to being as prevalent as originally intended. The way they were finally featured in the game made sense and did not overflow the player with robot-itis.

WW: BIS was working very hard to keep the story and feel of the game comparable to the 50’s sci-fi feel of the original. In your opinion, would Van Buren have lived up to that promise and satisfied the majority of the fanbase?

DF: Overall, I’d say yes. We were all fans of the series and wanted to make a game we wanted to play as well. I think we were well on our way. Of course, we could not please everybody, but we were willing to give it our best effort.

WW: Would Van Buren have had pop culture references and easter eggs like the first two games?

DF: No. The only pop-culture references we had were 50’s related and in keeping with the 50’s interpretation of the future.

WW: While BIS was working on Fallout 3, the IPLY console division was working on FO:BOS (a title which angered a lot of Fallout fans and did not do well upon release). Did the console team have any interaction with the pc team? Were there any attempts to make FO:BOS true to the Fallout universe of the pc titles and if not, do you think that harmed the game?

DF: I was not involved in any meetings with the FOBOS team. The only thing I heard was one meeting between the FOBOS designers and producer, and a couple of design leads from BIS, that lasted about an hour or so. There could have been more meetings, though I never heard anything about them.

Judging from the final product, it looks to me not much effort was made to keep FOBOS true to the Fallout universe. In fact, it looked like it purposefully steered clear of it. I do think it hurt the game, as it seemed to try too hard to be “edgy” and “mature.” Using the “f” word every other word and having thong wearing sex kittens running around with guns and a heavy metal soundtrack does not necessarily mean either “edgy” or “mature.” Quite the contrary, if you ask me. Taking away the poor atmosphere of the game, the game play itself was barely mediocre at best, again in my opinion. Adding in the twisted version of a “hip Fallout atmosphere” made me cringe and just sank the game into a whole new depth of bad.

WW: During the development of both Jefferson and Van Buren, the mass exodus began. Feargus Urquhart, Chris Avellone and several others left BIS to form Obsidian. J.E. Sawyer left shortly before the demise of BIS yet you, Chad Nicholas and Jeff Husges kept the faith and continued regularly posting on the forums, interacting with the fans, answering questions, dropping hints right until the end. How damaging were these departures to the morale of the team and how hard was it to put on a “brave face” when going into work each day and posting on the forums considering IPLY’s financial difficulty?

DF: It was very tough. Losing those people hurt the project and they were missed, but we pulled together and were able to continue work. It was our trust in being able to complete this project and believing in the project that kept the rest of us going. What made it even harder was when assets – artists, programmers, designers – were pulled off F3 to work on either FOBOS or BGDA2.

We were continually promised those assets would be replaced, but obviously they never were. We were also able to keep our hopes up since upper management kept saying that they were 100% behind F3 and wanted to see it through to the end, right up until the weekend that would be our last at BIS, we got this message. Needless to say, I was pretty pissed when we got laid off. Being lied to and deceived does not sit well with me, and I let them know it during my exit interview.

WW: A lot of work went into developing the engine that was used for Jefferson and Van Buren. Are there any engines that were/are comparable to what the BIS team developed?

DF: That’s hard to say. Technology changes so quickly in this industry that what looks awesome almost three years ago looks like poo now. For its time it looked great. Now, it probably would not hold up all that great. It would not look bad, but it could not really compete with what’s currently out there.

WW: Of Jefferson and Van Buren, did you have more of an attachment to one over the other. In other words; which game was more “painful” to lose?

DF: Fallout 3 was definitely more painful to lose. We designers had a lot of creative freedom in this game and the areas showed it. Each area probably could have been its own game; there was so much to do. I know some of my best work went into F3. I have a particular fondness for an area I created called, “The Reservation.” It involved ghouls, a nuclear research facility, drug trafficking, trade, deceit, coup-de-tat, and all kinds of other wonderful ways to throw a wrench into the works. *Sigh*

WW: The devs at BIS were well known for being active and approachable members of the forum community, more so than most developers traditionally are. Was this an intentional policy of BIS or something that just came about by chance?

DF: A little of both. Those of us who participated in the forums really enjoyed communicating with the posters. I think it was a valuable tool to exchange ideas and get to know our audience. We were gamers as well, so it made sense to communicate with the people for whom we were making games.

WW: Several companies had expressed interest in obtaining the Fallout licence prior to Bethesda’s getting the rights to develop Fallout 3 (and subsequent sequels). Was there any particular developer you were hoping would obtain the licence/do the most justice to the Fallout name?

DF: I think it was a toss-up between Obsidian and Troika. Sometimes I would lean towards Troika because of the three original members of the Fallout dev team and sometimes I would lean towards Obsidian because I know them and I know first hand what they are capable of doing. I think if I were to choose this moment, I’d have to say Obsidian.

WW: What would you prefer to see? Bethesda picking up the Van Buren story, doing something completely different or a blend of the two?

DF: Something completely different. I was too attached to the original write-up and would criticize too much the changes Bethesda would make to the original design. Besides, since I am a gamer, I want to be surprised with something new. I know the VB story and do not want to play someone else’s’ interpretation. I’m certain Bethesda has their own ideas for story and I’m anxious to see it.

WW: At all work places, there are people you prefer to “hang out” with, both professionally and socially. Who were some of the people you enjoyed working/socializing with from IPLY/BIS?

DF: John Deiley, Scott Everts, Chris Jones, Chris Avellone, Chad Nicholas, and from time to time, Josh Sawyer.

WW: In your opinion, what was Interplay’s “biggest mistake” and what could/should the company have done differently?

DF: Not having been in upper management, again it’s hard to say what I would have done differently. I’m sure the management thought they were doing the right things, but the current state of the company I think tells a different story. But, to be blunt and honest in the short term, and if I had omnipotent power, I would have canned FOBOS, continued F3 and seen it ship. If I went back even further, I would have done F3 instead of “Fallout: Tactics” and found some way to save BG3 – if I were omnipotent.

There’s nothing wrong with a company trying their hand in the console business, but IPLY struggled with making good console games, the exception being BGDA (which was actually done by Snowblind with Chris Avellone as lead designer). IPLY’s strength was in PCRPG’s and they should have stayed focused in that direction until they had the actual revenue to experiment with console games and do them well. But what do I know; I’m just a designer.

Moving on in the Industry…

WW: Between the closure of Black Isle and your brief tenure at EA, you worked as a freelance designer with Silver Style (in Germany) on their PA title The Fall. How did you approach your work considering you didn’t have to “go to the office” each day?

DF: I started up my computer in the morning and worked on the material SS sent me. I would catalogue my hours worked, turn it in at the end of two weeks, and repeat. It was pretty easy, actually. Email is a wondrous thing.

WW: What can you tell us about your contributions to The Fall?

DF: I can only say generalities because of my NDA with them. It was a very short period that I worked for them and, since I have not played the game, I have no idea if they even used anything I wrote up. Unfortunately, I cannot say what I did write up. Sorry.

WW: Having just worked on the unfinished Fallout 3, how did you approach work on a different title in the same genre? Were there any aspects that you designed/planned for FO3 that made their way into your contributions on The Fall?

DF: No, not really. The Fall was a different game with a different atmosphere, despite being post-apocalyptic.

WW: After working as a freelance designer for Silver Style you joined EA and worked on the Real Time Strategy title, Lord of the Rings: the Battle for Middle Earth. What can you tell us about your time at EA and your experience working on your first rts game?

DF: Admittedly, I’m not a big RTS fan, and I was aware of certain “rumours” about EA that did not make it my first choice of employment. But when EA called and offered me a position with them during my unemployment, I took it. Having a family to support and a mortgage to pay makes a person less picky, especially in December/January when hiring is pretty slow going.

My experience there was a mixed bag. Without going into too much detail (because that would be tacky), I will say I did not approve of their work and design practices. With all the information running its course on the Internet and other news platforms, you can speculate about what I mean. However, I can say that I walked away from EA (thankfully) having learned quite a bit and a greater appreciation for what I currently have.

WW: What major differences if any, are there between the approach a designer takes on an rts as opposed to an rpg game?

DF: To be honest, I don’t think my experience with EA is a good litmus test on how RTS development goes, especially with other developers. I will say that designing for an RTS is much easier than a hardcore CRPG. There are many more factors to consider when designing quests in a hardcore CRPG than an RTS. In an RTS, the main objective for a particular mission might be to build a base and blow up bad guy A. I can make a few routes that the player can take to get to bad-guy A and provide a few helpful items or situations to help the player, but the bottom line is to blow up bad-guy-A. Not much story development within that mission, and dialogue is kept to shouting orders and maybe a small cut scene or two.

In a CRPG, if I were to design a quest to go blow up bad guy A, I would have to consider the many different ways a player may go blow him up, or maybe find a way to inadvertently blow him up, or not blow him up and work for bad-guy A, instead. Also, I’d have to write up all the dialogue focusing on all these options and design the terrain that helps different classes & skills achieve one of the different paths to quest completion.

WW: Back in September (2004) you left EA and sunny Southern California for Raven Software and Wisconsin. What prompted you to move your family to the colder climes for the position with Raven? And what does your little girl think of snow?

DF: There were many factors that led me to Raven Software. First was the atmosphere and the people at the company. They struck me as dedicated developers who valued creating great games, but not at the cost of family and soul. Secondly, the game I was to work on, X-Men: Legends 2, was right up my alley since I love super heroes and I liked the idea of an action/rpg based on the X-Men (Colossus and Wolverine being my favourite X-Men). Also, I really liked their approach to design, which allowed creative freedom that I was accustomed to from BIS. So, I had a company where I liked the people, the project, and their overall work approach. Next, what about Wisconsin…

When I first thought about Wisconsin, I thought frozen tundra, flat lands, cold cows, and people who spoke with an accent similar to the ones used in the movie “Fargo.” Naturally, I was wrong. I came here during the fall and found lots green fields (and corn fields), pockets of forest, clean air, very nice people, a slower pace, great housing, far less crime, and some of the best schools in the nation. What’s not to like? So when Raven Software offered me the position, I accepted and the wheels were set in motion. No regrets.

As for my daughter and snow, I think she is still trying to figure it out. She likes it at first, but her little legs have trouble traversing the deeper drifts. Also, she doesn’t like the cold very much, at least not for extended periods. She is a princess, that’s for sure, but she is my princess.

WW: You’re currently a working on X-Men Legends 2, the sequel to the recently released console title X-Men Legends. Are you able to tell us anything about the game at this time?

DF: I’ve been ordered not to say a thing. I really want to, but I cannot for fear of abduction and non-lubricated alien probes.

WW: X-Men Legends 2 is the first console title you’ve worked on. What can you tell us about the different approach taken as a designer on crpgs vs console games.

DF: I can say the design process is easier since I’m not designing a hardcore CRPG. I don’t have to worry about the different classes, long dialogue strings, etc. However, I am surprised at how similar the basics of the design processes are. There are a lot of similarities with how things are designed here and how they were at BIS, except that here things move a lot faster. Obviously I cannot get into detail (see previous answer about alien probes), but suffice it to say it is a very pleasant experience.

WW: It’s pretty well known that you’re a big fan of a certain super hero. While this hero is part of the Marvel Universe, he’s not part of the X-Men. Is there any chance players will encounter a big green easter egg in X-Men Legends 2?

DF: Sorry, can’t say one way or another.

WW: Have you ever felt the urge to cover yourself in green body paint, put on a pair of frayed cutoff jeans and run around the neighbourhood grunting incoherently and overturning your neighbour’s cars?

DF: In California, that was a daily fantasy, but not so much here.

WW: What super power would you most like to have?

DF: Super strength! I know, it may seem dull, but think about how the body must compensate for having super strength. First, let’s say I’m as strong as Colossus, who can lift 75 tons in metal form. To be able to lift 75 tons, everything in my body would need to be almost invulnerable. My bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, skin, etc. would all have to be strong enough to withstand the tremendous pressure of lifting all that weight. So, as an added benefit of super strength, I would also have near invulnerability. Also, since I can lift 75 tons, I can probably jump an incredible distance. Instant travel power! Yeah, I know, I’ve thought about this way too much…

WW: What superhero would you most like to have an “intimate encounter” with?

DF: Cool, a dirty question that could possibly get me in trouble with my wife! But I’ll play, anyways. I always thought Wonder Woman was pretty hot, as well as Storm, Cat Woman, and Electra. Black Cat is hot, too. There, that should be enough for a week on the couch…

WW: What is your personal preference as a designer? A tight focused story or a free-roaming “get to the main quest when you get to it” game? Is you preference the same as a gamer?

DF: A tight focused story is easier to design around, but not very challenging. I prefer to design around free roaming. I also prefer to play free roaming RPG’s. Go figure.

WW: You’re a known fan of MMORPGs (see the article Damien wrote for Winterwind on MMORPGs ). Herve Caen (having refused to let IPLY die with dignity) claims that IPLY will survive and develop/release Fallout Online (known affectionately as FOOL in fandom). What would your response be if Herve knocked on your door tomorrow and asked you to be the Lead Designer of FOOL?

DF: A swift punch to his face followed by hysterical laughter and letting my kitties use his face as a litter box – not that I’m bitter, or anything…

WW: What are your future goals in the gaming industry, both short term and long term?

DF: My immediate career goals are to design areas for X-Men: Legends 2 to the best of my ability, to add more RP elements based on what I learned at BIS, and to make them as fun as super-humanly possible.

My long-term goal is to take the reigns of a project and either be a lead designer and/or project lead. I would love to one day do a more hardcore RPG and head up that project, especially if it’s based on super heroes (where the player creates their super hero). We’ll see what the future holds. There’s time to get there.

WW: If a magic fish gave you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?

DF: Scary question if you think of the possibilities. If reality based (aside from the magic fish), I already have everything I could wish for and the direction I’m heading is the path I wished for.

Now, if we go into fantasyland and I had to make 3 purely selfish wishes, I’d wish for an obnoxious amount of money (say in the several billion dollars worth), start my own dev house and be self-funded, and have Super Strength.

However, in the tradition of a Ms. America Pageant, my politically correct 3 wishes would be a US government that is actually a Democracy with more than two parties (or one, as it currently stands), abolish world hunger and inhuman atrocities, and wish for world peace… and my own space ship with big plasma cannons, a cloaking device, faster-than-light gravity propulsion, deflector shields, quantum torpedoes, a wave motion cannon, and a… oh yeah, only three wishes… sorry.

Thanks for letting me blab and a big thanks to my fellow gamers, just because.

The team at Winterwind would like to thank Damien Foletto for taking the time to do this interview. We also thank Raven Software for their co-operation.

Note – This interview was originally published on the old Winterwind Productions site in February, 2005, prior to our switch to WordPress in 2020.

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