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Chris Avellone talks about Torment, Wasteland 2, Eternity, and more at Rock Paper Shotgun

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Chris Avellone talks about Torment, Wasteland 2, Eternity, and more at Rock Paper Shotgun

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 5 April 2013, 02:35:58

Tags: Alpha Protocol; Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity; Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Wasteland 2

There's an interview with Chris Avellone over at Rock Paper Shotgun today. Despite its title, I would say that it's actually just as much about Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity as it is about Torment, and it has some new information about those games. Have a snippet:

RPS: You're on Torment. Hurrah! Why, though, did you initially bow out? What kept you on the sidelines?

Avellone: It was mostly logistics. Brian asked if I could work on Torment not long after he got the name rights for it. But between the plans to do Eternity and other Obsidian stuff, it wasn't possible. He kept following up, and then Kevin Saunders actually proposed a plan for how much workflow would seem reasonable over a certain time period. I said, “You know what, for a companion and for doing design documentation, that's actually manageable in the time provided.” Rather than doing the same scope of work I did for Wasteland 2. Doing that at the same time as Eternity is kind of a juggling act. I don't want to repeat it.​

RPS: How much work have you done for Wasteland 2?

Avellone: A lot of area design. I did about four area designs. I reviewed some system documentation. The area design stuff was a little bit more complicated, because each of the areas I designed had two completely different states depending on certain events that happened in the game. So it felt more like I was designing six areas. But yeah, that was the extent of the work for Wasteland. I did some description text, but I didn't actually do as much writing as I was expecting. I actually really enjoy area design. Having a chance to draw maps again reminded me of that whole architecture phase. It was fun to sit down in the isometric view, plot out all the encounter points, how to use the skills in each area, the monster types, the traps. It was pretty awesome.​

RPS: And then on Eternity, I'm guessing you've mainly been doing writing and world-building? If so, I imagine those roles sync up pretty nicely.

Avellone: Mostly I've been focused on narrative. I've been working on the story, the lore, the cultures. We've been trying to figure out the approach we want to use with the story in the game. We're doing something a little bit different this time around, where everyone is doing their own take on the story, and then we all pick it apart. We find what strengths we like about each one, or things we think can work with some iteration, and we can share points that we bring together. I think we've got about five or six different storylines that we're constructing. We should have that resolved within about two weeks or so.​

It's actually turned out a lot better than I thought. I was worried it might be a bit chaotic. But it was really interesting to see all the different perspectives on which way the story could go once we had a few elements set in stone. We said, “Here's our core starting point that we have to cover. We know we have a stronghold, a city, how many dungeons. Now, on top of that, knowing what we know about the spell system, the cultures, and the world, what sort of story do we think works best in a setting like that?” Then we have like five or six different submissions for that, and then we just tore those apart.​

RPS: So, given that you're already juggling those projects, what are you hoping to bring to Torment? Are you worried about overlap?

Avellone: There's two things I'm set up to do. One thing, I'm going to be reviewing all of the design documentation for the game that Kevin and Colin have laid out. I'll offer feedback on that for things like, “Hey, I think this development works really well.” “Have you considered iterating on this particular element to make it feel more like Torment?” I think Colin and Kevin already have a good sense of what makes a Torment game, but I think they'd want my input on the design documentation. I know Kevin and Colin would appreciate that. Also, Kevin… When I worked with him on Mask of the Betrayer, he and George really liked the companions that I wrote. I think what they'd very much like is if I took the idea of a companion in the game and just did what I did with Kaelyn the Dove and Gann, do a companion along that same structure for Numenera. I think that'll work out pretty well.​

Chris also has a bit to say about the Star Wars IP, and in particular his originally planned ending for Knights of the Old Republic 2. It's actually pretty interesting stuff and might be new to some of you. RPS also submit him to the usual battery of questions about "the future of storytelling in games". Yes, we get it guys, you want Obsidian to make The Walking Dead clones. Get over it.

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