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Tim Cain is an American video game developer best known as the creator, producer, lead programmer and one of the main designers of the 1997 computer game Fallout.[1][2] In 2009 he was chosen by IGN as one of the top 100 game creators of all time.[3]

Tim Cain
Timothy-cain-gdc2010 cropped.jpg
Timothy Cain on the GDC Online 2010.
Timothy Cain
OccupationProgrammer, designer, producer
EmployerObsidian Entertainment
Known forCreator of Fallout series
Robert Land (m. 2011)



Early lifeEdit

Cain went to college at the University of Virginia and to graduate school in California. During this time, he helped out a friend programming a card game named Grand Slam Bridge for CYBRON Corporation which was released in 1986.[4] In 1989, he received a Master's Degree in Computer Science at University of California, Irvine.[3]

Interplay EntertainmentEdit

Began as a freelance programmer for Interplay where he worked on the fantasy role-play editor The Bard's Tale Construction Set.[citation needed] After finishing the game in 1991, he was employed full-time at Interplay.[citation needed] For the first time he worked with Leonard Boyarsky, who was a freelance artist at the time, as designer and programmer on the business simulator Rags to Riches: The Financial Market Simulation which was released in 1993.[citation needed]

In 1994 he started for a couple of months as the only employee working on a game which would later become the post-apocalyptic CRPG game Fallout.[4] He lay out the basic concept based on the GURPS system and began programming the isometric game engine. He also took over the producer role from Thomas R. Decker who had to supervise multiple other projects at the time.[5] With a development cycle of three and a half years Fallout was released in 1997. During this time he was also a programming consultant on Stonekeep (1995) and helped out coding Star Trek: Starfleet Academy (1997).[citation needed]

Before leaving Interplay to form his own company in January 1998, he wrote the main story arc as well as helping designing The Den area of Fallout 2.[citation needed]

Troika GamesEdit

Tim Cain (middle) with the two other co-founders of Troika Games: Jason Anderson (left) and Leonard Boyarsky (right).

After forming Troika Games with fellow Interplay workers Leonard Boyarsky and Jason D. Anderson in 1998, he worked as a project leader and lead programmer on Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura a steampunk/fantasy an RPG game for Sierra On-Line, Inc. which was released in 2001.

His next game reunited him with Thomas R. Decker, the original Fallout producer. As project leader and lead designer he produced within 20 months the Dungeons & Dragons game The Temple of Elemental Evil for publisher Atari in 2003. While he loved making the game he was disappointed that it did not turn out what he wanted it to be.[6]

He helped out programming the last Troika game, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, a horror RPG for Activision in 2004. He also worked on a post-apocalyptic roleplay game for which he couldn't convince any publisher to fund. As consequence he had to lay off most employees in late 2004 and shut down Troika Games in February 2005.[7]

Carbine StudiosEdit

He joined as the programming director at Carbine Studios working on a fantasy MMO game for NCSoft. He was promoted to design director in October 2007.[8] Cain left Carbine Studios in July 2011.[citation needed]

Obsidian EntertainmentEdit

Tim Cain joined Obsidian Entertainment as senior programmer.[9] He worked on Pillars of Eternity, which was funded through Kickstarter.[10] He is also a co-director for upcoming game The Outer Worlds.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Cain is affected by hereditary color blindness, stating in a Gamasutra interview that he "[can now] see less than half the spectrum of colors". He enjoys cooking, particularly Japanese and Chinese cuisine, and his favorite dishes are garlic chicken fried rice and chicken karaage.[12] He married Robert Land on July 14, 2011.[13]


There is more of me in Fallout and Arcanum than in any other game I made[6]

In an interview he criticized the bigger influence from sales/marketing department during Fallout 2 development:

We were losing part of the game to a larger group who had bigger plans for it[14]

Initial reactions after Bethesda bought the Fallout license from Interplay in 2004:

I was surprised and a little disappointed. I was hoping that Troika would get the license, but we were massively outbid. But in the end, they made a good game.[15]

After closing Troika Games in 2005 regarding his future he said:

I am staying in the industry but keeping a much lower profile than I did at Troika. Instead of talking about making games or trying to convince people to play (or publish) my games, I am doing what makes me very happy - making games.[16]

On Bethesda's Fallout 3:

He enjoyed playing the game, but was critical about the humor and the reuse of too many story elements from the earlier Fallout games which he would have done differently. He lauded the adaptation of "S. P. E. C. I. A. L." system into a FPS-RPG and their understanding of the lore of the game.[6]


  1. ^ Dransfield, Ian (3 October 2018). "The History of Fallout". Retro Gamer (186): 21.
  2. ^ Green, Jeff (October 2005). "The Bard's Tale", Computer Gaming World (255): 76.
  3. ^ a b "IGN - 85. Tim Cain". Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  4. ^ a b "Matt Chat 66: Fallout with Tim Cain, Pt. 1". YouTube. 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  5. ^ "No Mutants Allowed - Your Post Nuclear News Center!". Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  6. ^ a b c "Matt Chat 68: Arcanum and More with Tim Cain". YouTube. 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Erin (2006-12-26). "The Escapist : The Rise and Fall of Troika". Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Fallout Creator, Troika Co-Founder Tim Cain Joins Obsidian". Gamasutra. 2011-10-12. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  10. ^ "The People Behind Fallout And Planescape Are Making My Dream RPG". Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  11. ^ Hall, Charlie (2018-12-06). "Obsidian's new RPG, The Outer Worlds, has echoes of Mass Effect and Fallout: New Vegas". Polygon. Retrieved 2019-04-01.
  12. ^ "Will Ooi's Blog - Unmasking the Gamers: Tim Cain – Industry Veteran, Programmer, and Original Creator of Fallout". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  13. ^ "Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  14. ^ "Matt Chat 67: Fallout with Tim Cain Pt. 2". YouTube. 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  15. ^ "Duck and Cover :: View topic - DAC Interview with Tim Cain". Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  16. ^ Hoffman, Erin (2006-12-26). "The Escapist: The Rise and Fall of Troika". Retrieved 2011-06-05.

External linksEdit