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Gamebanshee Wasteland 2 Interview with Chris Avellone

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Gamebanshee Wasteland 2 Interview with Chris Avellone

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 2 April 2012, 08:18:59

Tags: Brian Fargo; Chris Avellone; Kickstarter; Wasteland 2

With the assumption that the $2.1 million milestone is going to be reached, Gamebanshee have interviewed Chris Avellone on his potential input on Wasteland 2.

GB: Jason Anderson already spent a great deal of time working on Wasteland 2's storyline, and Brian Fargo has already made it pretty clear what the team's design goals are for the game. Assuming you'll reach the $2.1 million milestone, where does Obsidian Entertainment come in? Will you be tweaking existing story elements, adding more, or contributing in other areas?

Chris: It’s up to the design goals of the project. While Jason Anderson isn’t at inXile anymore, I have a lot of respect for Jason's story skills based on Fallout 1 and the story layouts for Fallout 2. I suspect I'd be doing area and narrative design, and fleshing out a piece of the wasteland, but we'll have to see what the needs of the project are.

Also, a game story is always a starting place - it provides an overarching vision for the game. If it’s anything like Obsidian’s narrative structure process, stories and areas get divided for individual designers to flesh out – it’s easy to say “Quartz is taken over by a gang that’s holding the mayor hostage,” or “New Reno is home to 4 mob bosses” but going from there is a long, fun design journey.

GB: Could Obsidian's Onyx engine handle a top-down/isometric perspective and a turn-based combat system like inXile is shooting for with Wasteland 2? If so, have you talked to Brian about the possibility of licensing your Onyx engine, if only to make it easier for you and the rest of the team at Obsidian to contribute content at a faster pace?

Chris: Sure. To be clear, the Onyx engine isn't being used for Wasteland 2 - that said, there's information and structure components we can share based on how we've constructed RPG mechanics (notably conversation systems and editors, for example) that Brian has expressed interest in and we'd be happy to provide metrics and layout suggestions for. All of the programming and coding is in inXile's hands, however, as our programmers and tools programmers are focused on our other titles.

GB: You've hinted at the prospect that Obsidian Entertainment might pursue their own Kickstarter project in the near future. Does your collaboration on Wasteland 2 affect those plans at all? If not, when might we see a crowd-funded Obsidian project surface?

Chris: No, it won't affect our own Kickstarter projects. We do feel that there was a lot of benefit in learning from Brian's experience with Kickstarter, and I believe there's a lot of smart ways he engineered the process that I'd love to learn from, both in what's shown to the public and how he strategizes internally. Also, Brian's a good guy... I'm sure if we ever came out with a project and asked for help, he'd be willing to put in a good word with us with the community - just as he's already done extensive efforts to "Kicking it Forward" already.

GB: As someone who has worked on previous titles with player-created parties (notably the Icewind Dale series and Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir), how do you approach narrative design in a party-based game (Wasteland 2) vs. a single protagonist game (Fallout: New Vegas)? What are the primary areas that you need to get right in order to make the experience as fulfilling as possible to both story-seeking and tactically-oriented player types?

Chris: It's a matter of how you design the conversation systems to allow for the inputs of individual characters and allow those individuals to make skill or experience-based contributions.

Equally important, you also want to allow for checks and conditionals where the person you're speaking with can react to the actions of any individual within the group where it makes sense (Ex: “Hey, you there – I see you got a sniper rifle... if you know how to use it, I have a job for you.”). This isn't as hard to do as it may seem, although it's a subject for larger discussion and often comes down to how you want to present that mechanic and reactivity to the player (I feel Storm of Zehir and Icewind Dale accomplished this, although Storm of Zehir felt more elegant to me - and to give thanks where thanks is due, we owe that to the design lead Tony Evans and the UI programmer at the time, Anthony Davis, who got that system in and working).

The short goal: As long as people feel that their individual party members matter, not just in the battlefield, but in other interactions as well, that's what you're shooting for.​

Read the interview in full here.

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