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Bethesda's Pagliarulo: Episodic Gaming 'Just Doesn't Get The Press'

Fallout 3 lead writer & designer Emil Pagliarulo says great strides in game writing and design are often overlooked in episodic add-ons for Half-Life 2 and Oblivion, suggesting: "Unless it's a full game, unless it's got that full PR m
As the game industry strives to evolve the way it handles storytelling, are we missing some of its greatest strides forward? "I think Valve has more talent in their pinky than most people have in their entire body," says Bethesda Game Studios' Emil Pagliarulo, speaking as part of an extensive Gamasutra feature covering his work on the upcoming Fallout 3. Despite this vote of confidence, though, Pagliarulo was actually commenting on how he feels the high quality of writing in the Half-Life: Episode 2 received less attention than it deserved simply because it was delivered as a shorter episode rather than a full-size release. The same applies to add-ons and expansions, says Pagliarulo, who's doing dual duty on Fallout 3 as both its lead designer and lead writer. "Episodic content has proven to be great, but it just didn't get the press," he says. "People talk about the quality of writing in Oblivion, how it's a little schizophrenic. But if you read the reviews of Shivering Isles, the expansion, people rave about the quality of the writing. It's a tremendous step up. But nobody thinks about that -- it's in the expansion." "Unless it's a full game, unless it's got that full PR marketing blitz, unless people really know about it, I think people miss out." Pagliarulo says the viability of episodic content in general, not just as concerns writing, depends on who the company is -- "It says a lot about the state of PC gaming, too." "You've got companies like Valve and Blizzard who say, 'PC gaming is great!' I think that's a little misleading," he says. "It's great for them, because they're Valve and Blizzard. Valve has Steam, the most important PC distribution network in the world. It's fantastic." "I don't think a lot of games have that opportunity. That's why I think [Xbox] Live [Arcade] is great. [For] smaller games like Braid, it's a great avenue." Pagliarulo says that Bethesda's had plenty of success with their downloadable add-ons. "But again, I think full releases simply generate more excitement for people. An expansion can be exciting, but it will never generate as much excitement as something new and fresh." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature, an in-depth interview with Pagliarulo about how he balances writing and design on Fallout 3, his Looking Glass Studios legacy, and more (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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