Project Brazil is a massive story mod for Fallout: New Vegas that includes its own campaign set in San Bernardino, California and a whole new wasteland for players to explore. It's been in development for years, and part of it is already out.
When you're essentially making a new Fallout game, however, it's a little disconcerting to hear that someone else — in this case, the people who kinda own the entire series — is making a new Fallout game. After all, what happens if you throw a big release bash and nobody shows up, not even a tumbleweed or a sickly radroach who's been stuck in that corner for weeks and might actually be dead? What if everybody's already moved on to Fallout 4, making years of hard work worthless?
Contrary to what you might expect, the Project Brazil team isn't considering rebooting their massive mod undertaking in Fallout 4.
"I'm excited for Fallout 4, it will be cool," project lead Brandan Lee told me. "But Fallout: Project Brazil is a New Vegas game. That's where it will stay."
The Fallout mod community, Lee told me, has started putting an emphasis on sunsetting Fallout: New Vegas' GECK (the nickname Bethesda gave the series' official mod tools) and preparing for Fallout 4, but he's still got unfinished business.
"It's time for a new engine and a new prospectus," he said, "but it's also time to make good on the promises we made."
The game's impending release has lit a fire under Lee and his volunteer team, although they'd be lying if they said it didn't feel like that fire is on a fuse attached to a ticking time bomb. Their goal? To beat Fallout 4 to the punch.
"I've been heckled for years saying Fallout 4 would beat us [to release]," project lead Brandan Lee told me. "I'm saying no, we're going to beat the odds! We're going to do the impossible and make you proud to have been a part of it. We're going to earn that trust our community and fans have placed us in and make sure it sticks!"
This means that the team is likely gonna have to polish off the mod long before they were planning to. Fallout 4 doesn't have a release date yet, but since Bethesda is already advertising it, Lee and co are expecting it to come out later this year. That means Project Brazil will need to be finished somewhere in the neighbourhood of six months early.
"It's motivation [to finish the mod asap], yes, and I wouldn't call it little," he explained. "But we don't have a confirmed release date, so right now the motivation is causing a lot of stress, since we are currently assuming the worst: that they are due out October 22nd. Previously we were aiming at sometime around December releasing BETA 2.0 with four main quests set aside, and by March going to [release candidate 1] with those four restored."
If you're anything like me, you might be inclined to worry that this means the final version will be sloppy or lighter on content than originally planned. But Lee's not planning to crack the whip on his team until either it breaks or they do. He wants to bring in a few additional people and get everybody focused — himself included.
"Not having a clear cut deadline and mandate is my kryptonite," he said. "I thrive on the feeling of imminence. I start solving problems faster, I work harder, I make fewer excuses, and my overall quality of work goes up. I'm thankful to have a team and friends who feel the same. Fallout 4's announcement has been the lightning rod I needed to light the fire under our heels and make things happen."
"We won't release it with incomplete features or story, though. We will only release when it is ready, regardless of what I'd ideally like to see happen."
Bethesda's recent actions have helped Project Brazil in other ways, too. The paid Steam mod fiasco might have split Skyrim's mod community in two, but it brought Project Brazil's team closer together than ever.
"The paid mod disaster helped me get my team further consolidated, as they abandoned their Skyrim projects to focus all on FPB," Lee explained. "And for our fan base, it did nothing but strengthen our position in our community and with our players. I'm hoping the way we handle Fallout 4's release will continue to strengthen that bond and help make our release more exciting."
So the race is on. Or rather, it's out in the open after both Fallout: Project Brazil's team and Bethesda plugged away in silence for years. And despite fears that Fallout 4 might overshadow Project Brazil, Lee is hoping to build something that endears itself to players, something that lasts.
"Some may say the graphics aren't good enough to replay after Fallout 4. As an artist I agree with that," he confessed. "But the story we're telling? Ah, dude. No, you've got to play this. That will last forever, no matter how old the engine is. Every time I go through it I still get chills, and I've gone through it 400 times, seen it at its roughest. It still gets me. I just want to catch the people who won't want to go back before the landmark becomes a museum piece, shake them by the shoulders and yell, "have you heard of this?! You've got to play it! IT'S FREE."
If you think about it, it's kind of the opposite of pretty much every scenario in Fallout history: whoever wins, we win. Well, unless, like, Fallout 4 is complete garbage or something. I reeeeeally doubt that's gonna happen, though.