Interplay's Fallout 3 "Van Buren" pen-and-paper inspirations revealed

Fallout Van Buren Chris Avellone

Fallout 4 is doing well—lots of critics like it, including our own Phil Savage—but there are still those who miss what the Fallout series was like before Bethesda bought the rights.

Before the sale by publisher Interplay, developer Black Isle Studios was working on its own turn-based version of Fallout 3 codenamed "Van Buren", and last weekend at PRACTICE in New York City lead designer Chris Avellone revealed details from the cancelled game.

According to Polygon, Avellone spoke about the game's pen-and-paper inspirations. He mentions a paper playtest in which each of two teams of six developers ran parallel games that influenced each other. In Van Buren the player controlled a protagonist (an accused criminal) who travelled with a team of companions, the AI would control another team, and both teams would make decisions that impacted the world.

Another interesting feature Avellone mentioned was that each player would choose a piece of "theme music" for their character that when played gave them an extra 50% chance to pass a skill check, with the conditions that only one theme tune could play at a time and you could only play it once per session. Apparently this idea was popular with the audience in NYC.

Fallout Van Buren

For more images like this one, check out the NYU Game Center Tumblr. Given that inXile bought the "Van Buren" trademark and Fargo has said they'd be interested in doing something with it "one of these days", what kind of alternative Fallout game would you like to see?

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