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‘Atomic Robo’ Creator Brian Clevinger on Writing ‘Fallout: Nuka Break’ Web Series

This week, the fan-made web series Fallout: Nuka Break debuted on YouTube, and trust me on this one: It’s awesome. Set in the post-apocalyptic Atomic Age world of Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout video games, Nuka Break follows the adventures of three survivors in the California wastelands as they eke out a living, get shot at with alarming regularity and search for a tasty (and hopefully not irradiated) bottle of their beverage of choice, Nuka Cola.

For a not-for-profit series of fan-films, Nuka Break features surprisingly high production values, game-accurate props built by Finfrock, and a sharp, funny script by Atomic Robo writer Brian Clevinger that ties the whole thing together into one of the best videos you’ll watch all week. Check out the first ten-minute episode, plus our interview with Clevinger.Fallout: Nuka Break Episode One – Keep in mind that in keeping with the game’s M-For-Mature rating, there’s some brief NSFW language involved!

After checking out the episode — which came right at the perfect time for a guy who played Fallout 3 for eight hours straight this weekend — I caught up with Clevinger himself to talk about the series and what he has planned for the future!

ComicsAlliance: First, the obvious question: How did you get involved in writing for a web series about Fallout?

Brian Clevinger: You can blame Mr. Zack Finfrock for that. We met through the convention circuit approximately one million years ago. Eventually we worked together on Warbot In Accounting which is basically like if ED-209 got a job. Zack’s a big fan of the Fallout series, he enjoys making movies, and I’m the only writer he knows. A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN.

CA: Were you a fan of the games already, or did it all result from him talking them up to you?

BC: I’m a fan of the setting but not the games as such. Which is not a slight on the games. They are very, very good games. I would love to take Fallout 3 and New Vegas for a spin. In fact, I have, several times. But here’s the thing. These games paralyze me. There’s too much freedom and I am compelled to do everything, in all directions at once, and the end result is I do nothing. But, like I said, I love the lore, the setting, the idea of Fallout.

CA: I’ve been playing through Fallout 3 for the first time recently myself, and there’s definitely that sense of “Oh hey, I’ll just explore a little bit” that turns into four or five hours of just wandering around. I imagine that appeals to you as a writer more than a player, though, with as much potential as there is to drop stories into that world.

BC: Oh, yes. As a game, I just can’t engage with it. There’s so much freedom that I can’t decide what to do, how to do it, or when. But as a writer, or hell, just a fan of narrative, I love Fallout.

CA: Speaking of the setting, what’s your take on it? If someone who has never heard of the games wanted to check out the series, how would you describe the world, and these characters?

BC: It’s the future the ’50s promised us destroyed by the nuclear holocaust the ’50s promised us. What you end up with is Mad Max made somehow both more gruesome and more hilarious by the ruins of wholesome iconography left behind by a society that killed itself. And then we follow our main characters who spend much of their time bickering with and shooting at one another. And sometimes with people who are bickering and shooting at them. So, maybe Monty Python’s Mad Max?

CA: What’s the background of the characters? It’s Ben who’s more-or-less a stand-in for the player character of Fallout, right?

BC: Ben is the zombie, but he’s a total self-center a**hole willing to kill anyone who gets in his way, so yes, he’s a stand-in for your player character, Chris Sims. There’s also Twig, our vault dweller. He came from Vault 10 which was stocked with nothing but junk food for its supplies. Several generations later, it’s like in Wall-E and everyone’s obese down there. They call him Twig because he’s, by comparison, the skinniest person of that Vault and therefore the ugliest. Then there’s Scar, who used to be a slave topside. It’s implied in the original Nuka Break short film that Ben and Twig helped to rescue her. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to elaborate on the overarching plot of our series, but Scar and the repurcusions of her liberation play a major part.

CA: I figured that “Episode One” implied that there were going to be more, but how long a series are you planning?

BC: Honest answer: I don’t remember! Zack wanted to do X episodes, and he gave me outlines for each one. The major beats, set ups that would lead to future pay-offs, etc. I just filled in the details and provided THE LAFFS. But in doing so I found we were a little uneven on pacing and merged some episodes and split others. In the end, I think we ended up with fewer individual episodes than planned but the same amount of content. And I honestly don’t remember where we ended up, number-wise. I BELIEVE there are less than ten episodes written? But more than six? Is that an answer? And the first episode was kind of a double length one. Future episodes should be about 4 – 5 minutes long.

CA: Speaking of “the laffs,” the episode is surprisingly funny for something set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland that involves people getting shot in the neck.

BC: Well, it’s Fallout. You can’t do Fallout and skimp on the chuckles.

CA: Fair enough, but don’t you feel any remorse at all for getting that jingle stuck in everyone’s head? Again?

BC: None. NONE WHATSOVER. It’s the apocolypse, people are meant to suffer in it and your suffering is, like, meta.

CA: Any final thoughts about the first episode?

BC: BUY ATOMIC ROBO. No, wait. I think my favorite part was the Raiders. Those guys really sold the Dumb Flunky parts they were handed. Also the VATS thing identifying the leader as “RAIDER?” Dunno who came up with that, I applaud him or her. Made the whole short as far as I’m concerned.

According to Clevinger, all episodes of Nuka Break have been shot, and will be updating biweekly for the run of the series at the Wayside Creations YouTube page.

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