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Chris Avellone Interview at GamesIndustry

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Chris Avellone Interview at GamesIndustry

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Fri 19 October 2012, 23:30:31

Tags: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

GamesIndustry.biz offers a pretty lengthy and interesting interview with Obsidian's Chris Avellone. It mostly has to do with Project Eternity, of course. Have a snip:

Is Kickstarter a phenomenon that has legs?

Chris Avellone: I'm not really sure how long Kickstarter will last. What we were worried about with Eternity is that it seemed like a lot of gaming companies were barely making their funding goals. Double Fine and Wasteland II charged pretty strong out of the gate. Shadowrun did pretty well, but then we noticed there's been a drop-off of how much people were willing to donate.

I'm worried about Kickstarter exhaustion; it seems like there's always a new Kickstarter project going up. That was one of the challenges we knew we had to face going into it. We had no idea if we'd make our funding goal at all, just because we'd seen that pattern developing. We're like, "Do we have enough appeal to even stand out in the crowd?" Fortunately we did.

We're still months or years away from the first of these Kickstarter games reaching customers. Will that change Kickstarter?

Chris Avellone: When the first successful title hits, or even the first unsuccessful title hits, that'll change Kickstarter in different ways. We haven't really seen the upper levels of how much people are willing to donate. We were joking around about this a few months back. Joss Whedon never went up on Kickstarter and said "Hey, you know what, I started a Kickstarter to buy back the rights to Firefly." How many millions upon millions of dollars would he get for that?

Then there's the danger of when the first big failure comes out on Kickstarter, I think people will be even more hesitant about donating. It will be beyond exhaustion level; it will be "I'm not sure this process is going to pan out." I feel like Kickstarter is still in its infancy when it comes to the process; I feel like we're in the honeymoon phase.

Are you looking to break any ground in terms of the design mechanics, such as moral choices or relationships? What are you looking to do that isn't generally done?

Chris Avellone: There's been a lot of focus with companion mechanics in terms of like "how do I romance this person?" I'd like to think that there are other types of relationships that you can have with a companion, whether it's friendship, rivalry, hatred, or revenge. Romances end up being an easy target, but I think there's a lot more you can do with companion relationships. Also, I think a lot of games have fallen into the hole of the evil choice is always a psychotic option. There's a whole spectrum of other stuff you can do in conversation that I'm looking forward to doing. Sometimes depending on the franchise it does make sense that you have these really extreme morality bars, because that's the nature of the franchise.

With this world I think it's going to be a little bit more subtle. The whole premise of the lore and the magic system is that souls get inherited, and then when you pass away the souls wait for a time and then come back to another body. The question is how much of your own behavior is being governed by your own free will or the influence of the soul inside you and all of its history? I think that can raise some interesting questions for both the player character and the companions.

How far advanced are you in the process of making Project Eternity?

Chris Avellone: It's largely in pre-production. We weren't sure exactly how much resources and funding we would get for it, and that governs so many things. Once we have the final amounts back from the Kickstarter we can figure out the staff breakdowns and plot out the schedule a little bit more accurately.

One nice thing is this is a pipeline that we've done many times back at Black Isle, and we still have a lot of those same people working on it. The very first area that we're working on, the level artist for that is actually the same guy who was doing level art all the way back for Icewind Dale II. Things have come full circle, it's crazy.​

And the full interview is here.

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