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Brian Fargo: "I think you are about to see the golden age of RPGs come rushing back"

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Brian Fargo: "I think you are about to see the golden age of RPGs come rushing back"

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 26 June 2013, 19:35:39

Tags: Brian Fargo; Interplay; inXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Wasteland 2

The Polish gaming website Polygamia.pl has an interview with Brian Fargo. It's one of his more personal interviews, touching on not just Wasteland 2, Torment or Kickstarter, but also on Brian's career, his experiences at Interplay and the circumstances behind that company's demise. Here's an excerpt:

In the mid-90 Interplay was home for biggest RPG franchises - Stonekeep, Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment, Fallout. Do you think it was a golden age for the computer RPGs?

I think you are about to see the golden age of RPGs come rushing back in the next few years, with what I'm seeing from Obsidian, CD Projekt and of course what we are working on. But most certainly there was a purity to the development of RPGs in the 90's in which we were very attuned to our players. You could not make nearly the money on a game back then as you can today, and the budgets were a fraction of today's big spends. The risk factors changed greatly as we left the 90's and the pressure ramped up and created a lot of craziness. But I honestly see that purity and being in sync with the RPG players coming back full circle -- in fact it is even stronger than ever.​

What happened after that? Interplay went public, Titus Interactive had major control of the company, your plan to switch to consoles failed - was there a way to avoid these events?

The answer to this question is a story in itself and too hard to summarize in a short answer, but the PC industry was not supporting our infrastructure and most every publisher had one big console success. We had hoped Shiny would deliver ours, but that was not in the making and we had outside investors who were pushing us for growth and a way to get their investment out. It was just a storm of bad things. The only way to have saved the company would have been to bring it down to its core business of PC and just have a handful of people to get it back on track. I had a plan to do so but my investors had other ideas and felt that they could do better. I no longer had control of the company so I flipped them the keys and wished them luck.​

Was it hard for you to leave Interplay, or was it a chance for fresh start?

On one hand it was hard because being the CEO of Interplay defined me as a person and my role in the business, and suddenly that was over after 17 years. I loved the games and my people, but it was time to go, but I was also quite miserable as I got to spend almost no time on the games and all of my energy trying to pay down debt and fend off some pretty irrational stuff. One of my board members called it my character building years. It was pretty hellish at the end.​

What is you favorite element of Wasteland 2? How are you going do redefine the genre?

That is a tough question to answer, but we are trying hard to take the reactivity and mood to another level with Wasteland 2. One of the hardest things to do in making this game is creating tons of content that you know half the people won't see unless they play the game again, and while painful creatively it makes for a more realistic world. You can have some simple NPC join you in the game and there will quite a few fantastic sequences attributed to him through the entire game that players would never see if they didn't keep this seemingly unimportant figure. The writing is really first rate on the game and clearly comes from an adult perspective and experience. Layering on such a deep tactical combat experience over so much storyline combines elements that I have always wanted. And I have to say the radio chatter and its reactivity is going to bring the world to life in a strong way. We have a lot of pressure to deliver a classic.​

How modern video games can affect Torment experience? I mean checkpoints, lowered difficulty, radar, arrows showing where to go etc.

I think we have been very clear that the experiences we are creating have more in common with the old school games but take advantage of modern elements like configurable UI. The handholding aspects of some modern games are exactly what our backers don't want to see, so people shouldn't expect much help there. Discovery is a large part of the experience with these kinds of RPGs and too much sign posting can ruin that aspect.​

inXile, Obsidian and CD Projekt, harbingers of the new RPG golden age! Problem, potato haters?

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