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Chris Avellone is still pretty mad about Obsidian

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Chris Avellone is still pretty mad about Obsidian

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 2 November 2016, 15:32:39

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Chris Avellone; Fallout; Fallout 2; Fallout 3; Fallout 4; Fallout: New Vegas; Obsidian Entertainment

Chris Avellone recently gave an interview to a Fallout-centric forum community called SugarBombed. The interviewer is clearly one of the many Fallout fans who are disappointed with Fallout 4 and the direction Bethesda have taken the franchise, and he spends the entire interview trying to get Chris to say something bad about them. However, Chris has no interest in indulging such narratives, preferring to talk about his former employers instead. The result is one of the most amazing interviews I've ever read. Have a look:

SB: Hypothetically, if Obsidian were to make a hypothetical new Fallout spinoff, would you hypothetically want to go back to obsidian and have some involvement with it being that Fallout is so close to your heart?

CA: No. While I like the developers and wish them all the very best, there's too many other problems at the higher managerial level to ever consider stepping back, especially when you could make a step in a direction that mattered for the franchise. Even leads at Obsidian have said as much (most after departing), and they told me they felt helpless in their roles to do what they felt was the right decision.

SB: How would you compare and contrast the RPG’s you’ve worked on with the RPG’s that Bethesda Game Studios has made? What do you think Fallout 2/New Vegas do better than Fallout 3-4 and vice versa?

CA: That's difficult to say from the internal perspective of then and now - and it depends on what design element you're talking about. Story-wise, I can definitely say Fallout 2 did a worse job on many fronts than Fallout 1, for example, and New Vegas did a lot of things even worse than Fallout 2, but did better on the world exploration front than F2 could hope to do based on tech alone (but which F3 and F4 did better, imo). Bethesda definitely has a better design-exploration-aesthetic than any game I've worked on.

SB: Tim Cain, one of the other fathers of Fallout that you have worked with in the past, once famously said that “My idea is to explore more of the world and more of the ethics of a post-nuclear world, not to make a better plasma gun” Todd Howard and Bethesda on the other hand, seemed to dedicate a lot more of their time and resources into allowing the player to create a better plasma gun (among other Minecraft-esque features) than they do exploring the ethics of a post nuclear world. Does this bother you at all? And how fine do you think the line between focusing too much on things like combat and customization, rather than not enough on them, is?

I don't know, I wasn't there during the development of Fallout 1 and Fallout 3/4 and can't speak to the internal design choices made. That said, previous games both Tim and I have worked on have definitely focused on combat to the extent of damaging the storyline, especially enforced/mandatory violent path options, and ones that had obsessive weapon design schemes that had a priority over narrative aspects.

SB: Another thing that hardcore fans of the series have been quick to point out is how little Bethesda seems to acknowledge New Vegas both in public and in Fallout 4 itself. There are very few references to anything that occurred in New Vegas or things that New Vegas established as lore such as Mr. House being a graduate of MIT, you’d think there’d be a reference to him somewhere at MIT (CIT in Fallout 4) right? Does it bother you that Bethesda seems almost unwilling to acknowledge New Vegas’ existence, and do you think the fact that many prefer it to their version(s) of the series has something to do with that?

CA: It's their license, and the two coasts are pretty far apart. Bethesda did reference San Francisco in Kellog's memory dungeon in F4, though, and it was clearly a Fallout 2 reference. I still think it was weird to do a Vegas when we already had a New Reno, it felt like the record was skipping. Still, it's likely because Vegas is more a key (and recognizable) signature city than Reno was, but I don't know why the decision was made.

SB: You’ve said that you don’t think Fallout will leave Bethesda’s hands again, and likely not go back to Obsidian. Do you think this would have anything to do with the quarrels Bethesda and Obsidian had during and after development (specifically the metacritic thing) and like I said before, they’re worried about being showed up so to speak? Because with Bethesda’s patterns, the next Fallout game by them likely won’t come out for a long time, so they probably want to fill that gap with something, no?

CA: I doubt Bethesda worries much about what Obsidian is doing (Bethesda's likely way too busy on multiple fronts), but only they could speak to that, I have no idea. From an outside perspective, however, it appears when Bethesda likes working with a studio or see their potential, they seem to buy them (Arkane). They didn't buy Obsidian, though, even though Obsidian is eager to be bought based on recent interviews. It might be for the best - I don't know what would happen to the devs if Obsidian was bought, but the upper management would likely come out okay with that exit strategy.

SB: Let’s say Bethesda goes and tries to fill the wait for Fallout 5 with a Fallout MMO by The Elder Scrolls Online developer Zenimax Online Studios. Do you see any potential in this idea?

CA: I think a Fallout MMO would do well. Yes, RPG Codex, light your torches, I'll send you a map to my house.
Holy crap, Avellone.

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