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Brian Fargo dev chat log
Interview - posted by Saint_Proverbius on Wed 15 October 2003, 03:39:54Tags: Brian Fargo; inXile Entertainment; The Bard's Tale (2004)
[Saint_Proverbius] Okay, let's start. Brian's ready. I think we're all ready. So, how'd you pick the name, "inXile" anyway?
[Brian1] well.... right after Interplay I was going to E3 in May.,....
[Brian1] and I needed a quick name to get a badge...
[Brian1] i chose the "workshop" and as a joke I gave my title "Ceo in exile"... it got such a funny response
[Brian1] that we figured there was something to it.
[Brian1] and ended up with the inXile name since inexile by itself was taken.
[Spazmo] Who makes up the inXile team? Any other ex-IPLY bigwigs?
[Brian1] people were coming up and asking me for my business cards for souvenirs... it was quite funny.
[Brian1] we have a couple.....
[axelgreese] (just curious but you wouldn't happen to have one of those scanned would you?)
[Brian1] We hired the guy that worked his way up through the ranks as programmer, producer, division head and eventually ran our UK office.
[Brian1] His name is Matt Findley and he is our president here.
[Brian1] The other one was our director of HR who now handles all of our organizational type duties.
[Brian1] The rest of the company was made out of best of breed from many other companies.
[Brian1] Oh... her name is Elene Campbell
[Spazmo] And how big is inXile? Is everyone working on the new BT game?
[Brian1] Our website gives bios on each of the team members and we are 16 people of which everyone is working on BT except Elene who handles the office functions.
[Brian1] It's a strong team
[Exitium] I've noticed that your Art Director is the same guy who worked on Redneck Rampage and Kingpin. Is Bard's Tale going to share a similar element of 'edginess' to it as the other two games?
[Brian1] Maxx is a fantastic art director and I was very impressed with him on his previous work but BT will not have the edginess of a Kingpin. It's style is somewhere between fantasy and photo realistic.
[Brian1] It is less comic looking than say a Dark Alliance
[Pooperscooper] so good graphics?
[Brian1] The graphics look really good and we have gotten a positive response from everyone who has seen them. Another strong artist is Paul Varney who did the graphics for Sacrifice.... funny story.....
[Brian1] When we submitted BT to Sony for concept approval it was running on the PS2...
[Brian1] and one of sony's questions was asking what machine we were running on... they thought it was a PC or Xbox
[Brian1] always a good sign!
[|Ausir|] Will the PC version be different in any way from the PS2 one?
[Brian1] The graphics will be resed up and we will of course change the interface to make it PC but the game play will be pretty much the same.
[Exitium] Will it (Bard's Tale) be moddable in any way, shape or form? I've always liked that about titles.
[Brian1] next question?
[EEVIAC] When you started the company, did you initially have the idea to buy old game properties as a source for your new games?
[Brian1] For the most part yes, I had always wanted to bring a version of the Bard's Tale back and since my background was in RPG's it made perfect sense.
[Exitium] So tell me, can you explain what the deal is, which you explained in some earlier interview, about having very little dialogue when it comes to accepting/solving quests rather than having many choices at your disposal?
[Brian1] There has been some misunderstanding about the dialogue system.....
[Exitium] A lot of people enjoy 'fluff' dialogue, even if it is 'fluff' and has no bearing on the quests themselves.
[Exitium] Please clarify.
[Brian1] One of my gripes is that often when you have choices in dialogue.......
[Veloxyll] Its a secret poly to surprise people when they actually put more content in...as opposed to the other way round :P
[Brian1] they all end up at the same place or have no relevance to gameplay. We have honed it down to an attitudal choice of which
[Brian1] the player chooses his attitude and then has no idea what the exact words the Bard will say.
[Brian1] These choices then branch and branch causing a different experience for differentr players.
[Brian1] And this to me is a hallmark of a good RPG......
[Veloxyll] Oooh! so its like a surprise answer?
[axelgreese] so it's similar in nature to morrowind's dialogue system then?
[|Ausir|] so, it's more like in the old adventure games than most RPGs
[Brian1] we want people to talk about their experience with another person who finished the game and have it seem like they played somewhat different games.
[Exitium] I see.
[Faith`] it'll add to replayability to not see what all the possible responses are
[Brian1] most definitely.
[Faith`] a definite plus IMO
[Brian1] plus we are working hard on making the dialogue flow like the way people speak and react to things.
[Exitium] So, is it like watching an interactive movie?
[Faith`] some people will ofcource complain, but I think it adds to the suspense to hear what exactly the protagonist will let out of their mouth :D
[Brian1] not really.. that implies long winded cut scenes to me...... dialogue moves along at a quick pace with witty remarks.
[Exitium] Like an old-school adventure game, then, as Ausir remarked.
[Brian1] Some of the fun will be in seeing what the BArd says and then knowing you are going to have to deal with the consequences.
[Exitium] What about the combat? How's that handled?
[Saint_Proverbius] Wait.. Are you saying that the dialogue is basically a linear thread with just two options, but the reply is similar with the only change of the words of the response to reflect the disposition of the Bard itself?
[Exitium] saint's first.
[Brian1] For the really dire situations the player would have to be consistently rude to get big results.
[Brian1] let me answer those 2 questions
[Brian1] Saint question... no thats not how it works.... the 2 responses have branch out into deeper conversation trees.
[Brian1] the bard gives totally different responses.
[Brian1] and another thing.. ALL the dialogue in the game is spoken.. no text.
[|Ausir|] it was similar in some adventure games, like Blade Runner...
[axelgreese] not even subtitles?
[Brian1] to answer exitiums question....
[Brian1] of course subtitles are an option.
[Brian1] The first thing in combat is the last thing we want is a button masher which some people thing it is due to it being on console also......
[Saint_Proverbius] Hooray for turn based!
[Brian1] The combat is in real time with a strategic bent of which you give behavioral control to your NPC's.
[Brian1] you spoke too soon Saint... :)
[Exitium] While I don't care for consoles, my biggest fear is that it'll be too 'automated' (i.e. autotargeting) or seem too much like a console title when it comes onto the PC.
[Saint_Proverbius] I was trying to hypnotise you.
[Exitium] How are you going to deal with the combat interface on the PC?
[Brian1] Let me answer the first part.....
[Brian1] We too like combat which forces the player to think during combat.... what weapon, what is the party composition, when to use spells, party control, ranged vs melee etc.
[Brian1] As for PC obviously it will be mouse driven.
[Exitium] It's not going to be too much like Final Fantasy 7 when it comes to tactics, is it?
[Brian1] Final Fantasy is a turn based game of which you have 3 members in the group... not sure what you mean by tactics?
[Exitium] Umm, when you mentioned weapon selection and so forth, FF7 and games similar to it place a lot of dependency on the character's equipped inventory.
[Brian1] I'd like to make a comment not related to battle once I have covered this.
[Brian1] Swapping weapons is extremely easy and fast so there is not a great emphasis on what weapon you have when battle commences.
[Exitium] Fair enough.
[Pooperscooper] is this game going to be pause and play?
[Brian1] No there is not a pause and play type game.
[Exitium] Okay, let's give Bryan a little space now for him to make that comment not related to battle.
[Brian1] I'm happy to go over ther graphics and combat but I wanted to comment on a few goals of ours....
[Exitium] Go right ahead.
[Brian1] Personally I'm sick and tired of busting open 1000 barrels to find the skeleton key... I believe we need to move this medium forward out of the cliches that lock us in.
[Saint_Proverbius] Stop playing NWN, Brian.
[Pooperscooper] why is this game on console then?
[Brian1] We will still be an RPG with character creation, stats, leveling up, feats, party based combat etc but we want to make this game act a little more adult in its flavor.
[Brian1] Well we are on console and PC and we saw an even greater opening in the market based on the dumbed down version of RPG's we saw there.
[Exitium] There's a reason why there's no intelligent RPGs on the console.
[Brian1] We saw no reason we could not bring the depth of play we expect from PC onto console also.
[Pooperscooper] Do you think the type of game will appeal to the console gamers?
[Brian1] I disagree that there is a reason.... we still have enough storage to save the variables we need to give it depth.
* Faith` notes that Morrowind sales on xbox were pretty damn huge
[Exitium] Console gamers usually come from a different gaming mindset.
[Thenomain] I'd be more likely to buy a console if there was a good keyboardless UI for more complex games like RPGs.
[Veloxyll] Not always though
[Exitium] Morrowind was not a very in-depth game unless you count the mods developed on the PC, Faith.
[Brian1] We are starting to see the trend with KOTOR and morrowind.. but even with those we think we can bring the freshness up a notch.
[Exitium] Hopefully you are right. The market is certainly bereft of -intelligent- titles.
[Saint_Proverbius] Eye of the Beholder for the GBA was pretty nifty.
[EEVIAC] What about Shenmue II on XBox? We don'thave games like that on PC.
[Exitium] Intelligent games do sell pretty well in Japan, though.
[|Ausir|] if there are already some keyboards and mouses for consoles, and if you are making kb/mouse interface for the PC version, will the console version also support them?
[Exitium] You might consider making a Japanese translation of the game. Wizardry is HUGE.
[Pooperscooper] EVVuace that adventure
[Brian1] Ironically we have heard that the japanese dumb down their games for the US market on console.
[Pooperscooper] wizardry was huge
[Brian1] We looked at buying Sir tech at one point and wizardy is not as huge as it used to be.
[Exitium] Pooper: it still is, there's more titles out in JApan which aren't even in the US because marketing doesn't believe that the US market is ready for 'intelligent' titles.
[Pooperscooper] dragon quest is a real complex game lewl
[Saint_Proverbius] inXile buying them or Interplay?
[Brian1] I would say Dragon quest is complex not but not very intelligent. Its just the kind of game we intend to poke fun at. Skeleton keys, being the chosen one, etc etc
[Brian1] At Interplay we were looking at them.
[Exitium] What made you stop looking?
[Exitium] (I know the answer. but i'd like to hear it from you)
[|Ausir|] now Interplay is more focused on selling parts of the company than buying...
[Brian1] The sales continued to drop and that kind of product was clearly coming out of favor. As much as I loved Wizardry and Might and Magic, those hardcore games were just falling off.
[EEVIAC] Considering the state of recent IPLY games, does that drive the ambitions of InXile somewhat?
[Pooperscooper] brian, did interplay attempt to sue you after u left?
[Exitium] Might and Magic was never a very exciting title to begin with.
[Brian1] ok which question?
[Exitium] Whoever asked first.
[Pooperscooper] answer them all
[Brian1] My ambitions at inXile is more driven on the overall state of RPG's vs anything that Interplay is doing.
[Saint_Proverbius] Yes, Pooper, they did. When people leave game companies, instead of giving out gold watches and things, they give Subpoena these days.
[Brian1] While we were cash strapped at Interplay while I was there I'm proud of the quality we were putting out under very difficult times.
[Brian1] As for suing me... they threatened to but never did... it was blustering.
[Exitium] They probably didn't have the money to afford a real attorney.
[|Ausir|] Will there be any references to the story of the old Bard's Tale games, or will there be no connection between them except for the title and the town of Skara Brae?
[Brian1] I think the lawyers are the ones making all the money there.
[Faith`] reference to the heroes that ascended after killing tarjan would be a nice ;)
[Brian1] You might see a few little surprises :)
[Exitium] What's your opinion of Devil Whiskey (the Bard's Tale remake)?
[Faith`] oh and we must have hawkslayer :D
[Saint_Proverbius] It's not a remake.
[|Ausir|] Saint_Proverbius: not anymore, at least
[Exitium] It's got the same setting or somewhat, doesn't it?
[Brian1] honestly I have not played it but it seems like a great shareware type title.
[Saint_Proverbius] It's more of a clone.
[elfus_presleaf] mornin all
[Exitium] It was originally based on Bard's Tale but I think they removed the references sometime during the development.
[|Ausir|] well, they kept the good old stuff, but also the bad old stuff...
[Exitium] Anyway ---
[Exitium] More questions for Bryan!
[|Ausir|] if there are already some keyboards and mouses for consoles, and if you are making kb/mouse interface for the PC version, have you considered mouse/kb support for the PS2 version also?
[Pooperscooper] when is the game comming out?
[Brian1] The installed base is just too small for PS2 and we need to make sure it has a robust controller interface. Only on PC are we making sure mouse/KB works well.
[Exitium] Ausir: Not enough people own keyboards and mice for the PS2.
[Brian1] As for the game I get to give the answer I've always wanted to give... "when its done!"
[Pooperscooper] so late 2004?
[Exitium] Do you really have that much leeway in developing your game?
[Saint_Proverbius] You self publishing this, Brian?
[Brian1] perhaps... that would be nice... but obviously our first game has to be STELLAR!
[|Ausir|] who's the publisher? or do you publish it yourself?
[Brian1] Our publishing is different country to country but in the US we are the publisher and we will have someone else handle distribution.
[Thenomain] Taking the Cyan approach, huh.
[Thenomain] Is there any fear that Bard's Tale might not make the translation into a modern game? Or is starting in a medium so different from the originals part of the reason to ressurect Bard's Tale?
[Brian1] Well.. I don't have any fear that the game won't be graphically competitive or have more personality than people are used to in these games. Im anxious to start getting it out so people can experiece it.
[|Ausir|] is the character system new, or is it a renewed version of the old BT one?
[Faith`] will hawkslayer or other oldie BT references be in?
[Exitium] Faith: I think he answered that one.
[Brian1] The character system is completely new. The old BT system is actually quite simplistic.
[Dhruin] I don't really see any Brand recognition for BT in the PS2 market. Why wouldn't it be better to have concentrated on the PC version first where there's a starting market from PC old players?
[Faith`] ah sorry, was buried in the shareware dialog :)
[Saint_Proverbius] I really like Dhruin.
[Exitium] I really like you.
[Exitium] You speak my mind.
[Thenomain] (Really, really old PC players, ahhem.)
[Exitium] (to Dhruin)
[Pooperscooper] exit likes men
[Exitium] Pooper likes to be kb'd.
[Saint_Proverbius] Whew.. I thought you were coming on to me again.
[Brian1] Most importantly the game has to stand alone without any brands or licenses like all licensed properties should. And I disagree that the console players won't recognize the name... the majority console owners own PC and they average age is pretty high these days.
[Exitium] Anyway, go ahead Brian.
[Brian1] Certainly all the console mags have contacted us and are quite excited.
[Saint_Proverbius] What about the problem with people seeing the name Bard's Tale and kind of expecting.. You know.. Bard's Tale?
[Exitium] Brian, I just don't think that too many of the old Bard's Tale players even bother with consoles - tastes don't change that much, even if it's been 20 years.
[Pooperscooper] xbox houses more PC gamers
[Exitium] Those people who operate the console magazines are, for the most part, ancient gamers. I can't say the same about the 12-18 year old Final Fantasy crowd.
[Pooperscooper] hence the popularity of KoToR and morrowind
[Brian1] Funny because those both seem like opposite thoughts.... one guy might not want to buy it because he thinks its going to look like a game from the 80's and the other guy wont buy it unless it is.
[Brian1] At the end... people will buy it because the game is super entertaining and filled with life.
[Saint_Proverbius] Well, they're both problems with the same idea, really. :)
[Exitium] They'd have to buy it first to find that out though, wouldn't they?
[axelgreese] then why append the name?
[axelgreese] if it'll sell on it's own merits then why have the name?
[Exitium] I mean, the problem is that you might suffer during the initial release, and even months after. Relying on word of mouth is just too risky these days.
[axelgreese] I'm sure it cost a pretty penny (and a few ugly ones too)
[Thenomain] If it'll sell on its own merits, why not use the name? ;)
[Brian1] Because I created the Bard back in 1985 and I wanted to bring back a modern RPG with one of my nostalgic characters.
[Dhruin] Sorry to harp on this point. You're Gamespy article gave clear precedence to the PS2 version; does the PS2 suit some artistic vision or will it simply sell more?
[Brian1] And i really liked the setting and the use of music as magic.
[Exitium] Rhythm of the spheres fan, eh?
[Exitium] Er, music of the spheres.
[Brian1] Well.... we do want to sell as many as possible because we love doing what we do. And we want to keep at it for another 20 years.
[Saint_Proverbius] Rhythm of the Night?
[Exitium] Music of the spheres is a Pythagorean reference, Saint.
[axelgreese] so your game will sell better on the PS2 then? is that what you're saying?
[Brian1] We need to make smart business and creative decisions. But beyond that we are doing PC also.
[Saint_Proverbius] Mine was an El DeBarge reference. Top that.
[Brian1] Well if market size dictates then the PS2 is more likely to sell more.
[Exitium] Mine's intellectual. I win by default.
[axelgreese] I'm just curious but doesn't that mean, the PS2 market will have precedance over the PC market then? meaning you'll scratch that itch first, so to speak...
[Saint_Proverbius] Mine's got a better beat, and you can dance to it. But speaking of the beat.. Who's doing the music for it, Brain?
[Exitium] Is it, Brian?
[Exitium] It's not as if Run Like Hell sold any copies.
[elfus_presleaf] us old farts get nostalgic some times, mid 30's climbin into a fast pc game to escape the screamin kid
[|Ausir|] well, it's not like Run Like Hell is a good game
[Dhruin] Given that it's a different setting,
[Brian1] In this case we happen to be scratching both itches. and please dont compare us to RLH. :) That game fell apart in its execution.
[Exitium] There are some -good- console games which sold very few copies, you know, Ausir.
[Exitium] YOu know who to thank for that one eh Brian?
[Brian1] We are in the entertainment business so there is no guarantee of anything. I have seen moves I really enjoyed that did no business.
[Dhruin] Given that's a different setting, RT etc, what *will* mark it as a true Bard's Tale successor?
[|Ausir|] isn't the setting the same?
[Exitium] All I'm saying, Brian, is that releasing the game on a PS2 first and foremost is a real gamble. Whereas you would have a more reliable customer-base on the PC.
[Saint_Proverbius] And you
[Saint_Proverbius] You've said that, many times. Move on.
[Brian1] Well those are business debates that go on and on.
[Exitium] WHo are you referring to Saint?
[Exitium] Fair enough, Brian.
[EEVIAC] Speaking of old disasters, would you like to see something horrible happen to Herve? Like losing a nut in a pencil sharpening accident? :)
[Exitium] There's an image!
[Saint_Proverbius] I kind of agree with Dhruin there. You have the Bard as the character, and a few references.. But what else is there that's "Bard's Tale" about this one?
[Dhruin] Thanks for wording it a bit better, Saint. :)
[Brian1] The scottish heratage, the Bard, music and the summoning. The original BT was very shallow compared to todays standards. There were like 6 quests in the first game.
[Brian1] Games have just come so far since then... compare a Fallout to BT.... worlds apart.
[|Ausir|] or rather Fallout to Wasteland :)
[Thenomain] Have we had an answer to "who's doing the music"?
[Saint_Proverbius] Not yet.
[Brian1] Oh.... Tommy Tallarico is assiting with the music.
[Exitium] What other games has he worked on?
[Saint_Proverbius] He did the blips in Pac-Man.
[Brian1] Hmmm hundreds but I can't name them off the top of my head. He has a web site under his name.
[Thenomain] Man, I loved those blips.
[axelgreese] Wild 9, from Shiny
[Exitium] Good blips. Classic as hell.
[Brian1] I think he invented the blip and the bleep.
[|Ausir|] yeah, i'll never forget the pac-man melody
[Exitium] PAc Man World
[Veloxyll] *imagines hearing Pac-Man sounds at the end battle*
[Exitium] And I thought you kids were joking.
[Brian1] i have to go in a minute....
[Brian1] one more question?
[|Ausir|] Pacman world? the original PacMan blips were better :)
[elfus_presleaf] i wanna know who did the explosions in defender....lol
[Dhruin] Can we ask about Wasteland?
[Saint_Proverbius] I wish.
[Brian1] I can't say much about that yet...
[Saint_Proverbius] Wait.. 1987's Wasteland?
[Exitium] What about the voice acting, Brian? Anyone we've heard of?
[Brian1] We are still casting for that...
[Saint_Proverbius] If so.. Brian.. What the hell were you thinking with that laser chess board maze?
[Brian1] you mean in Wasteland?
[|Ausir|] the same thing the Fallout 2 people were thinking with that electrical floor
[Brian1] OMG that is too much trivia for me but I did not do that map. But we promise there are no laser chess boards in BT!
[Saint_Proverbius] "I hate players."
[Brian1] We hate electrical floors as much as lava levels!
[Thenomain] Oh come on. The laser chess board wasn't as bad as some of the really tedious things Bard's Tale (for instance) made you do.
[Faith`] Brian: long term vision of company? plans for mature crpgs like fallout and torment?
[Brian1] Maybe we should bring back mapping on graph paper and only 1 save game? ;)
[Veloxyll] : = ?
[|Ausir|] Brian1: well, there's only 1 savegame in ToEE's iron man mode :)
[Veloxyll] 1 Save game vs 1000 Bugs!
[Veloxyll] What Epic Combat!
[Brian1] Our long term vision is to remain very focused on just a few titles and try to bring a more adult/mature sensiblity to the genres that we work on. Of which RPG's are the main focus now.
[Saint_Proverbius] So, Bard's Tale will be M-Rated?
[Faith`] I'll drink for that :)
[Exitium] Will there be any 'adult situations' in B-Tale?
[Brian1] No not Mature... just smart.
[|Ausir|] and then... Wasteland: Desert Rangers based on FOBOS engine!
[Faith`] exactly, I didn't mean bordellos, but dialogue with thought instead of "smite da ev0l"
[Exitium] If your website's title interface is prophetic of things to come...
[Saint_Proverbius] But what's the point of summoning toothy beasts if they can't gore enemies with.. gore.. and stuff?
[Thenomain] Leather Goddesses of FOBOS?
[Brian1] Well gore doesn't mean M rated either...
[Exitium] I liked clicking on the tavern wench.
[Brian1] We just are not going for M rated games is all.
[Brian1] Edgy yes
[|Ausir|] I'd like Wasteland to be in a retro 80s style (like Fallout is 50s style) - i know that the first Wasteland WAS MADE in 80s, but it would be funy now :)
[Brian1] sexual innuendos yes
[Brian1] but not mature.
[Exitium] Immature, then?
[axelgreese] you want your game to be sold at walmarts then?
[Brian1] although some might.
[Exitium] Those 'some' people have no sense of humor!
[Thenomain] Army of Darkness is wonderfully B-Rated immature. It's a huge part of its draw!
[Saint_Proverbius] I watched Army of Darkness last night. Now that's a good flick.
[Pooperscooper] are u aiming for a T rating?
[Exitium] Damn right, Saint.
[axelgreese] Army of Darkness is really good, but Evil Dead 2 is still supreme
[Brian1] We are doing nothing that should give us an M rating.
[Exitium] Bruce campbell is the man. He does voice acting, too. You should look him up, Brian.
[Exitium] Then you can put his name on the box.
[Exitium] "Bruce Campbell as the Bard!" He's got that whole witty/charm/sarcastic thing going on, too.
[Pooperscooper] brian how about FAN voice acting
[Brian1] Everyone in the game has english, scottish accents, etc.. not sure if he can do it properly
[Saint_Proverbius] That's true. I bought Tachyon for Bruce Campbell's voice acting alone.
[Exitium] Seriously, Brian. We're not kidding.
[Brian1] the fan part?
[Pooperscooper] the fans
[Exitium] No, we're not kidding about Bruce.
[Pooperscooper] do the voice acting
[Exitium] I do't know what Pooper's going on about.
[Thenomain] You're not kidding about Bruce, Exit.
[Brian1] we love him too.
[|Ausir|] i don't know if Bruce could do a proper british accent
[Brian1] if he did an accent he would be great.
[Brian1] seriously... I have to run now.... I've really enjoyed this and thanks for not being too hard on me. ;)
[Pooperscooper] have him as the american
[Pooperscooper] who came to scotland
* Faith` waves
[Saint_Proverbius] Seeya, Brian! Thanks for the chat!
[Brian1] no problem.....
* Faith` roots for Hawkslayer
[Thenomain] It's always good to hear the vision from the horse's mouth.
[Brian1] have a nice night everyone
[Thenomain] I'm not sure if that makes it horse-vision.
[Exitium] Thanks for chatting with us.
[Pooperscooper] thanks brian
[Pooperscooper] your my hero lewl
[Exitium] And unless you've got Christopher Walken as a fan of theo riginal BT, don't count on 'fan actors'.
[Brian1] talk to you later....
* Brian1 has quit IRC (Quit: JWIRC applet)
[Saint_Proverbius] (Wasteland is phase based, Brian)
[Exitium] TOO LATE
Thanks again, Brian Fargo of inXile, for taking the time to come and chat with us!