Josh Sawyer, the director of Fallout: New Vegas, recently shed some light on his approach to balancing abilities and weapons in games before launch. In a YouTube video, Sawyer discussed how much of this balancing process is based on “vibes.” He emphasized the idea that spending excessive time on theoretical simulations before player feedback may not be as effective as actually testing the gameplay in real-time.

During the development of New Vegas, Sawyer created a simple spreadsheet categorizing weapons by ammo type and base damage value. This spreadsheet served as a tool for making relative comparisons to damage threshold values. However, Sawyer admitted that this spreadsheet was quite basic and only used for a short period of time before the game’s release. He highlighted the importance of practical in-game testing over theoretical planning.

Sawyer mentioned using test levels like TestJoshWeapons in New Vegas’ files, but he emphasized that most of his testing was done within the actual in-game locations. He would roam around areas like Vault 3 and Quarry Junction, testing weapons against enemies to evaluate their effectiveness. Sawyer believed that the true measure of balance comes from playing and experiencing the game firsthand.

While pre-launch testing and balancing are crucial, Sawyer acknowledged that player feedback can lead to necessary adjustments. Once the game is in the hands of players, their experiences and insights can help developers refine and improve the balance of abilities and weapons. Sawyer highlighted the importance of being flexible and open to making changes based on user feedback.

Josh Sawyer’s approach to balancing abilities and weapons in Fallout: New Vegas emphasizes the significance of practical in-game testing and player feedback. By focusing on how things feel in practice rather than theoretical simulations, Sawyer aims to create a more engaging and well-balanced gaming experience for players. The insights shared by Sawyer provide valuable lessons for game developers looking to fine-tune their gameplay mechanics and enhance player satisfaction.


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