Long time RPG developer Tim Cain (Fallout, The Outer Worlds, Troika Games) has revealed another surprising fact about the Fallout series via his excellent YouTube channel. The games are known for their open-ended RPG gameplay and allowing player freedom, but according to Cain, one of their hallmarks, the so-called pacifist run where you don’t directly kill enemies, was originally an accident.
Cain, a veteran developer who created or had a hand in some of the best CRPGs ever made, has been putting out near-daily vlogs about his work for over half a year now. Some highlights we’ve covered include the “true purpose” of Fallout’s Vaults, a Troika Games Lord of the Rings demo, and a version of The Temple of Elemental Evil made to test a US Department of Defence AI project.
“It was accidental in Fallout,” Cain said of the seminal RPG allowing players to beat the game without killing anyone. “We’d designed the game and done the main quest and all that. And at one point, I believe someone in QA went ‘You know you can play without killing anybody.’
“It turned out it was a side effect of most of the dialogue playthroughs not resulting in anyone dying.”
When the Fallout team realized this possibility, they continued to support it, and when feasible, Cain’s made accommodating pacifist play styles a priority in later games. He expressed an appreciation for how challenging pacifist runs can be, noting that it’s a way of roleplaying that engages with a game on a deeper level and requires creativity on the part of the player. Cain seems keen to match that creativity and effort in kind.
On the flip side, Cain also revealed that a borderline omnicidal playtester chafing against unkillable “essential” NPCs is what inspired one of the game’s potential endings where your character murders the Vault 13 overseer.
This kind of RPG deep lore just keeps me coming back to Cain’s YouTube channel—he makes everything from high level design decisions to programming tricks on classic games entertaining and easy to digest. The developer’s already got quite a backlog of vlogs to work through if you’re looking for something to watch.