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George Ziets interview over on IronTower

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George Ziets interview over on IronTower

Interview - posted by JarlFrank on Sun 24 August 2008, 21:37:33

Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer; Obsidian Entertainment

The guy who has been working on Age of Decadence has interviewed George Ziets, lead designer of Mask of the Betrayer, and asked some interesting questions about his work on the game and his motivations.

1. I've heard rumors that you are tired of "medieval fantasy" RPGs. I'm pretty sure that I know what you mean, but I'm curious about your reasons. Also, what exactly did you do to separate Mask of the Betrayer from such games?

I think this depends on whether I’m thinking as a player or as a designer.

First, the player’s perspective. When I open a new book, or sit down to watch a movie, or purchase an RPG, I want to be introduced to a world that I’ve never imagined before. I’m drawn to fantasy and science fiction for the thrill of discovery - to peel away the layers of setting and learn the “rules” of a new world. Some writers are brilliant at this. George R. R. Martin and Scott Lynch are two of my more recent favorites.

Now, it certainly isn’t impossible for an imaginative and intriguing world to be set in medieval Europe (or some facsimile thereof). The two authors I just mentioned base a lot of their material on real-world European cultures, and I found that The Witcher also presented a fresh take on some old formulas. But many, many games (and less effective novels) seem to be mired in the same old formula. As soon as I see elves, dwarves, and orcs, I can pretty well guess how they relate to one another, and what the world is going to be like… and I’m usually right (The Witcher notwithstanding). Once my curiosity has faded, so has my interest in the book, movie, or game.

That brings me to the designer’s perspective… and now that I think about it, the two perspectives are pretty closely related. As a designer, I need to be inspired by my game’s setting. Even when I’m the author or lead writer, I’ve got to have that sense of discovery. That’s what gets me out of bed for a long day of building levels, designing quests, or writing dialogue. It’s all a process of discovery. If I’m drawing my inspiration from, say, Slavic mythology - not something I knew much about, before I worked on MotB - then I’m truly learning and discovering something new. And that leads to all sorts of new ideas and connections. But if I’m working in the same old fantasy setting that I’ve been reading and playing for twenty years… it’s awfully difficult to come up with fresh and exciting ideas.​

The questions are quite interesting, and it's worth a read. Most of it is about why Ziets made his design decisions the way he made them, and what thoughts he had when he made the game.

Spotted at: Iron Tower Forums

There are 12 comments on George Ziets interview over on IronTower

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